The house has become shambolic as the process of packing proceeds.
The exercise has proven telling. We have gone through this before, but every time it has different challenges for myself and the munchkin. When I see the great piles of stuff, for the most part I feel a need to throw out or give away most of it. With the exception of a couple unique pieces of art, or my hard drives, pretty much everything is just coma. By coma I mean in the astronomical sense – that huge cloud of luminous debris that follows a comet as it nears a sun. Does a comet define itself by the vapour around it? I would rather define myself by myself, and not by the things that I surround myself with. Like any object that interacts with light, we can know a lot about people by what they surround themselves with, or even from what they reject. Our society takes it to the next level by mistaking those things we have for the things we are.
This materialism has some effects on those who embrace it. Giving things away becomes tantamount to an incremental form of suicide. To the retailer a non-buyer is a nullity, and an ascetic is a horror. The culture of things and its attendant media abhor it and make no bones about denigrating those who would discourage consumption. A person who is trying to get out of this cycle of consumption is made to feel that they are the ones who are flawed.
What objects would you choose if you were to down-size completely? I suppose this question has been asked too many times already – it boils down to the proverbial desert island, or the decision about what to pack for a suitcase. Refugees make this painful choice daily in our world. Tearing people from their comfort zones, or in many cases from their fundamental rights to security of person is ugly. There is a big difference between moving and ditching your stuff because of a war, and doing it because you have achieved a level of security, independence, and confidence that enables freedom. Hopefully I am providing the backdrop to enable the latter.
Stuff I want to Keep:
- A troll sculpture, for sentimental reasons.
- My hard drives, as they contain all the books, thoughts, images, and work I have amassed.
- My toothbrush, at least until it wears out.
- A set of clothes appropriate to the climate.
- My skills. With these, I can earn money.
- My privileges – whatever they may be, for without socioeconomic status, skills are moot.
- Sunscreen. Because sometimes clothes aren’t enough.
- Good glasses – because reading is a joy best not accompanied by headaches.