Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We all drank the Kool-Aid.

I used to live in a house that was 150 years old. When I moved in, one of the issues was closet space: the closets, such as they were, were tiny. In the middle of the 19th century, working class people didn’t have a lot of clothes. They had clothes for work and clothes for church, and that was it. If they were lucky, they had more than one or two pairs of shoes.

My closet today is huge by those standards, and full of sweaters, slacks, dresses, shoes. I haven’t worn some of those clothes for years. Most days, if I’m not in my riding gear, I wear a pair of my favorite jeans and a t-shirt (summer) or turtleneck (winter). There are a couple of fleece jackets I like to wear on cold days. Most of the other stuff in the closet sits idle, brought out for the occasional wedding, funeral, or night out.

When I go to a shopping mall, I’m amazed at all of the crap people sell that other people buy. Who needs all of this stuff? They say our economy is suffering right now because many of us are cutting way back on our spending. What that really means is that we’re buying only what we need—and most of us already have much more than we need, or want.

How did we all get here, with our houses full of clothes we don’t wear, dishes we don’t use, books we don’t read (or won’t read again), vases, candlesticks, old cassette tapes, mismatched pots and pans, and lots of plastic: bottles, storage containers, bags, toys, unused kitchen utensils, etc.? When you stop to think about it—and look at all that you own, right now—it’s overwhelming. And appalling.

How did we acquire all of this stuff? Why did we want it? Why do we keep it?

(Imagine that we all buy only what we truly need. Could our economy survive? Could we?)


dadDeO said...

Appalling is such a strong word. Overwhelming seems more in keeping with the rest of the piece. Doesn't a lot of your unnecessary stuff give you pleasure, some of it even because it is unnecessary (like your funky furniture clock that is really a paean to creativity)?

Edie Freedman said...

There's a difference between crap and non-crap--and the amount of crap is indeed appalling. To me, anyway.

There is room for art and room for objects that we love. What I'm talking about is all the stuff I don't love, don't need, don't want. There's a lot of it around here. And it is crap. And it is kind of appalling.

lucyfree said...

And I have both - too much art, too many meaningful mementos, not much quiet zen space to soothe the soul.
The overall effect is kind of appalling especially when I tackle even one area. Worse than all the things I don't need is all the paper that seemed important to save...boxes and boxes, and some of it I still want to hold on to.
I have a quote (among all my stuff on walls) that says "Our way is not difficult,save the picking and choosing." I hope that I - and all of us - can pick and choose more sparsely in the first place. And anyone who wants to help with the editing of all this stuff, BRING IT ON!

Edie Freedman said...

My current theory is to do what Grandmother did--just box it up and stash it in the attic. Let the next generation (or the one after that) deal with it...