What’s stuff got to do with it?

016Yearning for calm?  Then let’s talk about stuff.

When we dream about having a simpler, calmer, life, we don’t generally dream about being surrounded by stuff.

Desert islands, tick.  A yoga retreat in a minimalist hotel, lovely.  Living out of a camper van or a backpack while travelling the world, yep.  Tending a garden or doing art with your kids, hell yes.  Time for a nap?  Mmm…

A new scatter cushion?  Not so much.

Maybe that’s because we know deep down that stuff does not equal simple.

But the weird thing is, we often don’t notice that things complicate our lives.  We think first about the length of our commute, our working hours, perhaps issues with family or friends, our houses, or other time commitments.

But stuff?  The car, the dishwasher, the food processor, the steam cleaner, the little razor thingy that shaves the lint off your sweaters, the little metal balls that you swish around your mug to get the tea stains off (or is that one just me?).  Stuff is there to make our lives easier, isn’t it?

Well, ok, maybe some of it does.  But probably not as much as advertisers would have you believe.

The things you own will cost you.  Not just the price of buying them:

  • in time spent choosing them, dusting them, cleaning them, replacing batteries, repairing them;
  • in money for replacement parts or accessories, and for maybe photographing and insuring them, and storing them.  Even if you don’t pay for offsite storage, you have to pay for a home big enough to house all your stuff;
  • in energy, as you work to pay for them, or continually move them around to clean or get at other stuff.  And each time you look at them and think that you really ought to be cleaning/repairing them, but you just can’t be bothered right now…

There’s nothing simple about stuff.

Think about it.  How many things really make your life easier?  So much easier that it’s worth the time and energy paying for them, storing them, cleaning them, repairing them, maintaining them?

I turned my mind to this recently.  Here’s my list:

  • Services – gas, electricity, broadband, internet
  • Heating and hot water
  • Indoor plumbing and bath, shower, sink, toilet
  • Washing machine and tumble dryer
  • Washing line, pegs, laundry basket, clothes airer
  • Cooker, microwave oven, kettle, fridge and freezer
  • Some toiletries and medicines
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Car
  • Travel bag and purse
  • Door keys
  • Computer
  • Mobile phone
  • TV and DVD player (I know… but I have a small child)
  • Bed (and bedding)
  • Sofa and chairs
  • Kitchen table
  • Lights
  • Some cooking and eating utensils
  • Dish drainer
  • Rubbish bin
  • Some clothes and shoes
  • Pen and pad to write on

I haven’t included in the list all the things I would also need to make these things work (like washing powder) or to clean/repair them.  If you added in those things, and the things I just want to have because they make me happy, you’d have a pretty long list.

But it would still be a fraction of what is actually in my house.

What stuff makes your life simpler?  And what doesn’t?

If this has inspired you to start getting rid of your stuff, just google “minimalism”, or have a look at these blogs, for inspiration: 

Becoming Minimalist


Be More with Less

Reading My Tea Leaves