Too Much “Stuff,” Too Little Room For What Really Matters

Okay, I admit it – I’m a creature of habit. Like most Saturdays, I woke up this morning before the break of dawn, rolled out of bed and immediately headed out for a not-so-casual “stroll” in the park.  To do that, I needed 1 T-shirt (I own a few dozen), one pair of gym shorts (I’ve got at least 6 pairs of those), a pair of socks (got a drawer full of those), one pair of underwear (briefs – I know, TMI, but I figured someone out there would ask)(got another drawer full of those) and one pair of tennis shoes (there are 4 pairs of those in my ever-shrinking allotment of closet space).  Most importantly, I needed 5 miles of neighborhood streets and sidewalks (I know, Mr. President, I didn’t “build those”!) and a healthy, but, if I’m to be honest, rapidly depleting, amount of self-discipline and commitment. Total elapsed time: 1 hour and 20 minutes. 

With that out of the way, I returned home, refreshed and inspired, to prepare my morning meal – the “DAB Breakfast Sandwich.”  To do that, I needed one egg (there are 2 dozen in my fridge), a small frying pan (extracted from a cabinet crammed with pots and pans of all shapes and sizes), one Thomas’ Double Fiber, Honey Wheat English Muffin, a small tab of butter (fortunately there are 2 pounds of that and a extra tub of “butter want-to-be in the fridge”), 3 slices of bacon, 3 small paper plates (thankfully, we have 50 “real” plates and dozens of paper ones to choose from!), one slice of cheese, 1 plastic cup (a quick survey revealed that I had 98 cups and glasses – no risk or running out of, let alone even using, those) and 2 hands – though I was comforted to know that there is an entire drawer full of forks, knives and spoons – just in case.  Total elapsed time:  3 mins and 45 seconds. 

From there it was off to the couch in front of a by-today’s-standards small T.V. to watch some Ryder Cup and then to this small desk that is home to a small desktop computer on which I do what I love most – write.  Then, it’s off to shower, where, despite how much of it I have on tap, I only need one bar of soap, a dab of shampoo and one towel. A quick shave (one razor and a dollup of shaving cream) and a brush of the teeth (a little squeeze of paste from a GIGANTIC tube and a single toothbrush – where did all those other ones come from and who do they belong to?!?).  Once done with that, I will put on one pair of shorts (don’t ask), a Polo shirt, one belt and another of those pairs of tennis shoes I mentioned earlier.  Total elapsed time: Let’s say: 2 hours and 15 mins. 

When I’m done, it will be off to Chick-Fil-A, where “I’ll have a No. 5 8-count, please, with a fruit cup instead of the fries (okay, what the heck, throw in an extra side of the WAFFLE FRIES.  In fact, “super-size those bad boys while you’re at it), and a gallon of iced tea, with a few whole lemons worth of wedges and a box of Splenda (their inventory, not mine). Oh, and don’t forget to throw in a few barbeque sauces. That’ll be for here – and the name is Don.”  And for that brief period of time (20 minutes tops), I will be at peace, having caught my weekly glimpse of what Heaven must look and feel like.  And then I will be off, back to the “House of Clutter,” where I likely will settle in on that same small couch, before that same small T.V. for a little more Ryder Cup and a little college football. It is Saturday in the Fall after all. 

Unable to sit still for more than 20 minutes and with much work still to be done in anticipation of my upcoming presentation at NEDA’s 2012 Annual Conference and as part of my ongoing efforts to get the word out about my book, I likely will spend a few more hours back at the computer desk – writing, brainstorming, creating, surfing social media – and then it will be off to dinner and, perhaps, a little live music at a favorite Saturday evening haunt, a place where, quite literally, “everybody’s knows your name” (well, at least they know my name).  By then, it will be time to settle in. For that, I will need exactly one bed, one book on a single nightstand (I’m giddy over the fact that there are SEVERAL HUNDRED other titles in the house and a few dozen boxes more in the storage room, just in case I’m suddenly possessed by Evelyn Wood) and a “pot to pee in” – back to the kitchen cabinet for that!!! 

So, in summary, this is what it looks like I need from a purely “material” point of view: a bed, a pillow, a couch, a desk, a computer, a bathroom, a kitchen, a roof, a T.V. set, a cup, a plate, a few changes of clothes (and a place to put them), a few pairs of shoes, a car and the few odds and ends that go along with those things, but only one of each.  Why then am I feeling so claustrophobic?  Why is there a veritable tsunami of “stuff” everywhere I look?  Where did all this “stuff” come from?  What possessed me to think I needed even 1/3 of it?  Who was I trying to impress with all this “stuff” and why?  Most importantly, what do I do to rid myself of all of this “stuff” now that I have it, so that I can have room to breathe, to think, to not be distracted, to live unencumbered, to focus on what matters?  I want a simpler life.  If only I’d taken this morning’s walk 30 years ago . . .

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