How materialism brings you down

Shows about hoarding, organization, and clutter run amok on TLC, A&E, and OWN. We don’t have cable anymore, but when we did, I would watch marathons of these shows, captivated by the level of desperation and the piles of stuff (sometimes valuable, sometimes garbage – actual garbage). Sometimes I had to stop watching because I get so grossed out. But usually some moment would stick with me and I would end up cleaning and organizing the room as I watched, ensuring I would not become the next one with a yard full of Keep/Sell/Trash piles.

So, in less than a year I ended up taking 4 car-loads of stuff to a donation center, selling my nicer things on eBay (pretty lucrative, actually), and cleared out a lot of my house. Even though my house looks 10,000% better than it once did, I’m still not satisfied.

I’ve been dabbling with minimalism for the past four years or so, but can never quite shake my sense of materialism. I like to shop, I like to have new and nice things (like everyone else, I’m sure). But, I also like the look of empty spaces. It makes my heart sing when there is nothing on our dining table except for dinner! But  the dining table often piles up with mail, paperwork, to-do lists, and all manner of left-out groceries.

Keeping my surfaces cluttered, and struggling to clear them, shows me that I’m not “over” my sense of materialism. At least, not yet. That birthday card from two years ago? Yea, I have that. The pamphlet from an artist I liked at a craft fair last fall? Yep, I’ve got that, too. I don’t want to throw things away, because maybe I’ll want them some day. Maybe there’s info there that I’ll need, or maybe these things will act as a reminder for me of everything that I’ve done, seen, and become.

The reality is: Saving things is a waste of time, energy, and emotion. I sometimes use my evenings and my weekends (my free time) to sort through clothes, papers, and random junk. That’s time that I could be learning to play the ukulele, kayaking, trying new restaurants, going to the movies with my love. Instead, I sit inside moving things from one pile to another without ever getting rid of anything.

I think a part of the problem is that I have so many interests, so many half-loved projects, so many things left unfinished. I’m a maker by nature; I like all manner of crafts, and so have collected a lot of paraphernalia. That sort of stuff is really difficult for me to get rid of. Even if I haven’t painted in five years, I still want my brushes…just in case inspiration strikes.

So, I think the thing to do is to get rid of all the extraneous items. If I want to keep piles of yarn, wool, beads, and paint, then I have to get rid of some papers and books and clothes. It’s a trade off. My relationship with materialism and collecting will never be perfect, but it can get better. Like all other things in life, it just takes some motivation, commitment, and drive.


Your turn: What do you have a difficult time getting rid of?


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