I have railed against materialism on this blog. I have satirised consumerism, I've written poems and performed comedy sketches on these topics. Therefore, it is with a blush and a huge guilt complex that I reflect on the last three days.
I was packing to move house.
A few months ago when the idea of a move took shape and then solidified, I naturally felt an increase in my ongoing urge to clear out. My children learnt a long time ago that if something hadn't been used or worn or given a glance in – say – six months, the chances were, it would find its way into the bin or recycle bag unless they nailed it to the floor.
It became a comfortable habit of mine not to purchase a significant item of clothing (albeit from the charity shop) without a quick pre-chuck-out. On occasion I have had to be careful not to re-purchase something I’d previously donated. Sometimes when a thing looked familiar – instead of my brain saying ‘you feel warmly towards that thing because you used to wear it’ my grey matter sends the ‘you feel warmly towards that thing because you want to buy it’ message instead.
Fortunately for my bank balance I have always viewed shopping as a task rather than a form of entertainment. Generally, being surrounded by STUFF drags me down.
There are no gadgets in my kitchen other than those that seem, even to me, to be essential. No microwave, no dishwasher, no George Forman grill (!) Anyway you get the picture.
But once I started to pack, the sheer amount of stuff, the number of things, the crap, overwhelmed me.
I began to suspect I may have cut it fine in terms of time allowed. But – I told myself – you've been handing over little parcels and boxes and bags of things to charity shops for a while. When my Edinburgh conveyancer finally got his finger out and we confirmed the date (and before it turned out he hadn't done something vital he should have done and I thought the whole thing would be off) I upped the clearing-out considerably. I decided to be ruthless, even with my books and they have been thinned out on a regular basis because they breed when I am not looking.
Items I’d hmm’d and ha’d about were cast aside without a second thought or regret. Things I really thought I could not live without were revealed as an obvious waste of space.
Lord, after a day and a half of packing, the task still seemed daunting. Even taking into consideration that some of the stuff belongs to the two daughters who have not lived at home year, and a lot more belongs to the one that does - there still seemed to be too much.
Maybe my aversion to 'things' is connected to upbringing. My grandmother is a psychotic shopper and my mum loves to get-a-gadget. I've been amazed at just how many gadgets there are for things you never knew you needed a gadget for…
My friends may chortle as they already think my sensitivity to clutter is verging on abnormal but there is going to be a whole new level of clear as I go from small house to even smaller flat.
Putting all that to one side – and suspecting that there may be more chucking out when the boxes are opened (which seems kind of mad) I think I am going to have a new rule. If I look around me and feel that it would take my children more than a few hours to clear up after me when I die – I’ve got too much stuff.
On a massive positive note – I am really excited to now be a resident of Edinburgh.
This week’s recommended blog from the archive is;
Blog 23. What is Love! (philosophy of Wil-e-coyote)