Sat 27 May 06

Bit by bit, I’m filtering out some of the chaos around this house. Went through all of my clothes and donated most of the shirts and pants that I rarely or never wear to Goodwill. Recycled stacks of old bills, receipts, account info, etc. Returned borrowed objects. Consolidated a lot of my computer/electronic peripherals. Got rid of some of the garbage piled up in the garage.

Ultimately the dream is this: to pare possessions down to the point where the only things I own are those things that really bring me joy or are absolutely essential to my day-to-day functioning. Granted there may be some disagreement from Mary on what exactly is essential, but for my money I’d like to own just my outdoor rec toys and clothing, a very limited set of casual and work clothes, my computer (though a laptop would probably function better in this dream), dog-related essentials, something to sleep on, a few things to cook with, and a bowl and a spork.

I remember how great it felt after college to be able to toss everthing I owned into the back of my Festiva (with my twin mattress twined onto the roof). There was this feeling that if I wanted to I could go anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat. Just chuck it in my car and go.

I didn’t make much money that first year. Worked at a pool all summer then took six lazy weeks after that looking for another job. But, I didn’t really spend any money either. I had maybe a thousand dollars in the bank and that was plenty enough to buy cereal and chip in for rent. Plus the occasional trip to La Cantina or the Great China Buffet. The guys I lived with mocked me daily while I lounged on the couch watching Sportscenter while they went off to their real jobs, but man was I happy.

Here’s the thing. It’s not that I’m against having stuff. It’s just that, you know, the stuff you own ends up owning you. I do enjoy coming home to a house full of nice comfortable furniture and flipping on movie with zippy digital sound after a days work. I can high speed my way around the Internet for hours with that feeling that I’m occupying my time well, cause, “look how fast I’m looking at stuff!”

But when I think about it, really I’m not any happier than when I had my slacker summer job and came home to my mattress on the floor and my TV stacked on apple crates.

And I can’t really do those things that make me really happy when I’m stuck here with my stuff. Those things that create those moments where you stop and you feel and see everything and are just stunned into the awareness that you’re living. Like hiking through Rockies or bumming a week or two away on the coast. Sure you can have stuff and do these things, but it sure makes it a heck of a lot easier when you don’t have to “get all your things in order” every time you want to.

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