Stuff is one of those words you use in all kinds of contexts, or for all kinds of stuff. When you throw a bunch of stuff into a bag, you could be referring to any arrangement of things. When you talk about someone’s possessions, informally, you’re talking about his stuff. As a verb, to stuff something, is to fill it up — like when you stuff a turkey with breadcrumbs or stuff a pillow with… stuffing. – Vocabulary.com
Lots of us probably have boxes of stuff stored away somewhere. On top of the wardrobe, in the attic, garage, under the bed, behind the sofa, maybe even at other people’s houses.
Everybody has stuff. Not sure you can get through life without it. Even the most minimalist of us, have, I’m sure, at least one box or bag of stuff tucked away somewhere.
The state of our room, reflects the state of our mind.
A quote my aunty once used on me. I really wouldn’t like her to see my office right now!
I wonder if something similar could be said about the contents of our boxes being a reflection of our lives? I’m not going to attempt to answer,* but I find it interesting that the origin of the word “stuff” comes from the Greek stuphein, meaning to draw together.
For me, this brings to mind the idea that the stuff we have collected and stored up (whether conscious of it or not), are a drawing together of different elements of our lives. From childhood to now, both literal concrete things, and figurative emotional things. The good, the bad, the useful the not so useful, and possibly the preferably unseen.
Here’s a partial inventory of the bags/piles of stuff that I have: broken belt that I want to get fixed (prob no longer in style); old birthday cards; coffee postcards; kids gel pens (unused); batik book covers; health reports; phone ring/stand thingy; felt hearts; session notes; speaker notes; old journals (personal); magazine articles that I want to read; luggage tags; white skirt to dye; Development training manuals (unread); contemporary poetry guide; luggage scales x2 (1 in need of a battery); old bills; shoes x3 w/broken soles….
Maybe you’re a, “this may come in handy someday” person. Been there. Not judging. But let’s be honest, if you’ve been saying that for the last 5-10 years, it ain’t coming in handy!
It’s likely that periodically, or when the need arises/pushes us to (e.g. big/significant change, moving house, new job, new relationship, making room for a visitor etc.), that we attempt to sort through our stuff. You’ve probably tried going through them before, but never seem to get all the way through. Or that may just be me.
In the run up to going to Indonesia in 2010, I felt forced into having to sort through some of my bits and pieces. Partly because my baggage allowance was only 30kg. I mean how are you supposed to fit your life into 30 kg! Although I had it better than a friend of mine when she moved to Japan. She only had 20kg. Her Mother’s wise words to her were,
You only have 20kg! Don’t fill it all with knickers!
How do you decide what to take, keep, get rid of, add? My elimination process with clothes was, “am I really gonna want to wear that when I’m…” (sidenote: you may find my post Home is… interesting)
Another part of my thought process was, “what do, or do I not want to come back to in 4 years time?” The same unsorted boxes, unresolved issues, unfinished business? The same stuff that was a part of my life in the UK, was either gonna be carried to Indonesia, or waiting for me when I got back.
Chuck, Cherish, Charity A tip I got from a friend when she and her husband were getting ready to move to America. The basic concept is to have 3 boxes/containers out ready and labelled, and as you are doing your sorting/packing, you just immediately put stuff into one of the 3. Having them ready helped lessen some of the procrastination, and over time, made the process of elimination quicker.
Both practically and emotionally, I think this is a helpful idea. The ‘chuck’ element also lends itself to taking a look at the deeper spiritual/inner aspect of the stuff we have packed away.
Sorting through the stuff we have packed away in our homes. hearts, heads (mindsets) isn’t just about a de-clutter, de-stress, or a periodic purge for our momentary well-being. It is so that we can be at our most effective -for the long haul- in this journey of life.
In order to be at your most effective, what, or who even, might you need to remove from your life? (Tbc)
– This post is an adaptation of a talk I gave in 2015. Was interesting to find the Sam Gosling research. See the links below.
*Someone has attempted an answer, Sam Gosling|GozLab|Physical Environments
“Essentially, what your home does is distil a very long history of behaviours and choices,” explains Sam Gosling, Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas. – Read a simple summary of the research here