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Still too much stuff

On the Bright Side

I'm currently in the middle of packing and purging, and sorting and tossing, and consequently I can't help but think about a theme I've visited before: how I just have too much stuff.

Every box I go through makes me think of an old Henry David Thoreau (of "Walden" fame) story that goes like this: Thoreau was walking through Concord one day when he saw a man carrying an enormous pack on his back, wading through the mud. Thoreau felt sorry for the guy when he learned that the man was carrying everything he owned in his pack – not because that was all the stranger owned in this world, but because the poor man had all that stuff to carry around.

I wish I could be more like Thoreau but even as I'm madly downsizing, I'm a long way from that particular goal.

I come by my tendency toward pack-rattedness honestly – I inherited the urge to keep things (and not throw anything away that might have any sort of use left in it, no matter how minuscule or remote) from both of my parents ... and since I'm living in the house I inherited from them, I've still got a lot of their stuff as well as my own stuff.

So I've been going through boxes in the house and in the garage that have been sitting there untouched for a number of years, and I'm discovering that I've had a long-standing penchant for collecting and saving all kinds of unnecessary things, whether I even know what they are or what they're for in some cases. I'm happy to say I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff that, quite frankly, I don't really remember why I have it in the first place.

But I've also come across some old photo albums that caused a pause in my sorting as I had to look through them and thoroughly enjoy some fond and sometimes forgotten memories. Sort of odd though, in this day and age, where most of my recent photographic memories are all on a little thumb drive instead of in scrapbooks that take up much more space. I look forward to getting those old photo albums all loaded digitally sometime, but for now I'll hang onto those books and take them with me wherever I go. Those kinds of memories are precious to me and yes, they bring me joy.

I've also found some of my old writings, which is another sort of delight for me. Those too are in hard copy right now but I'll transfer them to my computer soon enough.

Would Thoreau consider that a good compromise – to be able to keep more memories in a smaller device that doesn't even need a backpack when a pocket will suffice?

Ah but I digress ... and obviously I'm finding excuses and ways of holding on to too many things. Of course, the really really important things in life aren't things at all. What really does matter are the emotional and ethereal things like love and family; friends and relationships; faith and values; honesty and honor; self-esteem and confidence; beauty and music; laughter and memories; dreams and adventures; learning and growing; excitement and new experiences ... to name a few.

The happy truth is that those really important things are the things for which a person doesn't need a pack or a physical space of any size. And I'm sure that even Thoreau would agree that a person can never have too much of that kind of stuff.

© Marilda Mel White. Mel White, local writer/photographer and co-owner of Tehachapi Treasure Trove, is heavy into downsizing but she still welcomes your comments at [email protected].