Friday, February 02, 2007

Stuff Purge (or: "Stuff Sucks")

Warning: I don't expect this to be a terribly exciting post, so here's the Reader's Digest version: Theressa and I are getting rid of a lot of stuff, and we think it's pretty neat. Because stuff sucks.

To expand a bit...although I went through a big "stuff purge" before moving from Cincinnati to Portland (to the point where I was able to fit nearly all my worldly possessions into my Toyota Camry), that still left me with a lot more stuff than I really need. Over the last year I've been going through another ongoing round of intense sloughing. I sold off or gave away my stamp collection (damn near worthless) and baseball card collection from when I was 10 years old, my legos, my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic collection, about half my non-Zelazny science fiction/fantasy books and 25% of my music CDs (both already cut way down in Cincinnati), all my computer games (even Civilization, my multi-year addiction!), lots more clothes (I still have boxes of clothes, more than I really need--but mostly things Goodwill wouldn't even want since they're permanently stained with dirt or blood or already in tatters), and most amazing of all--a significant chunk of my Zelazny collection.

It's been really neat turning all these dust collectors into valuable books on edible plants and such! And most of the stuff has been really easy to part with emotionally--I find that I'm not really tied to it. It's mostly a relief to not have to deal with it ever again. The one category of exception is the Zelazny books--it was really neat having all kinds of foreign editions of his books with their pretty covers all lined up my shelf. But not quite neat enough any longer to overcome the not-neatness of taking up shelf space which could be holding resources about plants, tracking, wilderness survival, etc. And the non-essential Zelazny books aren't neat enough to be worth boxing up and storing when we start doing house renovations, or neat enough to be boxed up and carried to a new location if/when we move. So off they go, to new appreciative homes!

There's still room for more purging, espcially in the Zelazny and music I'll probably do another round in the future. But at this point I'm still attached enough to some of the items, despite knowing that I don't really need them, that they'll sit on the shelf a bit longer. And, ironically, one of the main items I moved to Portland to discard is still taking up a sizable chunk of space--my car. Although I don't drive it, Theressa still does, so it's still around. At least it doesn't weigh on me psychically or monetarily--I don't put a penny into it, and whenever Theressa comes home and says something like "the radiator is leaking, and if I don't keep putting water into it every 30 minutes worth of driving, the engine will explode and wreck the car", my response is "Cool! Maybe it'll blow up and we can beat the crap out of the remains with a sledge-hammer!" So I'm not too worried about the car still being around, but I do expect that we'll wean Theressa off entirely (she only drives it once a week at this point) in the near future and be rid of the car for good.

My goal is to get myself to the point where, mentally, I can leave all my stuff behind. That doesn't mean I'm trying to physically get rid of everything; I just want to have a relationship with my stuff such that I can dump it in a second if the life of a hunter & gatherer becomes the most appropriate for the situation. I'm sure that for a while I'll be tied to some of my stuff, if for no reason other than my complete dependency on books and the internet for knowledge of plants and other survival skills. But as I internalize more of that knowledge the books will become less crucial.

Theressa's been doing much the same as I, doubled (in proportion to her greater amount of stuff!) Lots of craigslisting, ebaying, consignment shop'ing, and donating to the local anarchist collective. We'll wrap up with a quote from the lady herself: "Shit bogs me down and sometimes I think I should just get a dumpster and leave one pair of underwear, one pair of pants, one shirt...shit's fucking stressful! [Note: she does not mean our humanure compost system, which she says is easy.] Figuring out what to do with it and how to take care of it. I wasn't a big stuff connoisseur before, never got too deep into consumer madness, but now I've backed off even further and I can pretty much say that 'stuff sucks'."

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