Things & Stuff

Youth is spent collecting things. We find things that we like and we keep them. We attach our identity to them, making them important if only to us.

Our collections grow as we do. They hold memories, marking time. They preserve a place in our history, tangible pieces of who we are and where we have been. These are the things that made us who we are, and tell our story. They define us, becoming our lifelines, anchoring us to the world as we know it.

As we go through our lives, we continue to obtain things. Some things make our lives easier. We reward ourselves with things that we feel we deserve or have earned. We become surrounded with things, a lifetime of collected moments, events, memories and rewards.

However, sometimes life events or circumstances changes your focus. Suddenly, you see these things for what they really are: things.

My health with its complications forced me to do things differently. I had to do things differently, changing many things. Again it has changed, as I found out that the surgery “didn’t take”. I had been told for six months that it was  successful.

When Bill lost his job, we truly learned what is necessary…and what is not. There is a big difference between what you want and what you need. His new career is teaching us both many things. (It has been six weeks since I have seen my husband of 30+ years.)

My health issues, loss of Bill’s career, loss of family and loved ones, all of this refocused our energies and also our finances. It became increasingly obvious how much time and energy, but also space and money was spent, perhaps wasted on “things”. As stress rose, so did the need to simplify. Inevitably, reality set in as to the differences between need and want. With this came the clarity that our happiest times were those of simplicity.

Personally, I have never been one to need much to make me happy. Loved ones, human or fuzzy, nature, hugs, smiles…the little things always make me happy. It really hit me hard that all of the “things” did not make me happy! In reality, these things were stressors. They embody stress and waste.

I can give up the “things”, the stuff. I have, in fact. What really matters is what is behind the stuff, the meaning of the things. It is the love, the hugs, the laughter, the memories of the time spent together with loved ones. It is the connections made with them, not with the “things”. This is what keeps me going; this is what I need. These things don’t cost money, don’t need to be dusted; they don’t get broken or take up space. I can take these with me wherever I go, carrying them with me, right in my heart. These things last a lifetime, and they make life worth living.

I am weeding out the “things”, the stuff; I’m sorting, and clearing it out. But I am gaining insight and clarity, and hopefully eventual wisdom. In the end, it is not what we have, it is the way we live.   

5 thoughts on “Things & Stuff

  1. Well said and well written.

    It's always surprising when we learn that we can live with less. I have learned to live in about 400 square feet. It's true that many days it drives me crazy, and I hope to one day live in a condo or apartment…. 900 to 1000 square feet would seem like a mansion! But I don't feel like I would fill it up with “stuff”. Or at least I hope!

    I hope you are feeling better.


  2. Nobody could have said this better! Amen and amen! I guess that's part of the beauty of not having 2 nickels to rub together: you can't afford to acquire any more “things”. A blessing in disguise!


  3. I agree, Ann. As I've gotten older, I have realized that material things do not matter as much to me. Everyone is always talking about the next big TV, etc. I'm just not into obtaining the “latest thing”, well, except for maybe a computer. You kind of have to stay updated with them, but I still buy a functional model as cheap as I can get it. I guess the one material thing I seem to want the most are my books, but if I had to choose between them and the happiness of myself and my family, I would make the right choice.

    Lovely, insightful post, Ann. Thanks!


  4. Dear Ann,
    Sometimes life and its vicissitudes forces us to de-clutter. Yet when the spheres change we clutter again.

    But I get the feeling in reading your thoughtful words that your insights mean you will stay decluttered. You've discovered what is important in life.

    It's so easy to forgot. But oh how lovely life is when we come to know the freedom that results when we let go. For myself, I have discovered that good health is much more important than any “thing.”

    May good memories bless your life. Those take up no space in our home! They simply fill our hearts and it keeps expanding.



  5. This is excellent, Annie! It is interesting how our values and focus in life changes. I loved the way you explained our initial collecting of things… very true! Then we reach an age where we realize all this stuff is subtracting from our lives, not adding to it! If we rarely or never use it, who needs it. Even with the keepsakes, only a few are truly something precious to hold on to… the rest are precious because of the memories attached, and we will always have those! We are working on downsizing our rooms and closets of clutter as well, the more that I let go of, the lighter I feel! XOXO


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