Out of the closet: It’s us against our stuff


I think I want to move.
Oh sure, I love the house, the property, the neighborhood, and the schools. All our friends are here and the dogs finally learned how to strew the trash about the yard in the most efficient manner. Unfortunately, that may not be enough.
I want to move primarily so I can rent a dumpster and offload every bit of stuff we own. These are days of simple living, and if there’s anything worse than having too little it is having too much.
Cravings. I crave remodeling like an addict craves her next hit. Not so much because I need more counter space, fresh drywall, or brand-new wall to wall carpet for the dogs to destroy.
No, I remodel because it is the only way to motivate myself to clear out the junk.
Only upon threat of imminent drywall tape down, will I face the very top shelves of the cupboards and closets, the darkest recesses of what lurks behind the furniture and the back of bookshelves.
Only then will I haul out ‘fess up to the mugs that have spawned other, even tackier, mugs, the florist vases never to be used again, or the sandals from two summers ago that the dog chewed a strap off.
Moving it around. Unfortunately, well versed in enabling myself, I will often simply haul it all in boxes to be hidden, squirrel like, in another area of the house.
The energy our ancestors once poured into surviving in the wild is now focused on the conflict inside our own closets.
The same adults who have no problem running a corporation, building a better automobile, or fearlessly facing a houseful of uncivilized, young humans, are rendered powerless over their knick knacks.
Trying to face the specter of just tossing it all leaves most of us in a cold sweat. We build ever-more expansive homes, and in many cases rent offsite storage units, just to store our possessions.
Never mind that, with the exception of a few choice items, most, if lost, would never be missed. We might need it “someday” we insist.
The costs inherent in storing and staging the needless flotsam and jetsam of modern life amount to nothing more than protection money, really.
Insulated from the need to face your packrat problem or the knick knack monkey on your back, you are free to sally forth into ever great addictions.
Buying more and more. Garage sales, charities, and even eBay, which at first promised to take junk off everyone’s hands, have not been any help.
People donate, or sell, their own Cabbage Patch dolls and ceramic cats, only to use the proceeds to buy someone else’s equivalent of Cabbage Patch dolls and ceramic cats.
Losing battle. I think, rather than fighting what is clearly a losing battle, I simply must face the truth about myself. I have become a person who spent my life up to now accumulating stuff and will, to the end of my days, be locked in an increasingly dysfunctional relationship with it.
Like it or not, it’s us against the stuff. I fear the stuff is winning.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt has storage boxes storing storage boxes. She welcomes comment c/o P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460, kseabolt@epohi.com.)


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Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives in rural Appalachia with the always popular Mr. Wonderful, two small dogs, one large cat, two wandering goats, and a growing extended family.