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RLSG: Stuff

October 8, 2012

Words have meanings. “Stuff” is both verb and noun, and both its uses have a generically unpleasant sensibility.

Beloved icons of past eras are neither “stuff”, nor do we “stuff” them anywhere. But the last 50 years have created more stuffed stuff than all the millennia prior. Our consumer culture, where our economy is spent in volumized acquisition, has the unfortunate byproduct of “stuff”.

Big Box stores provide more “stuff” at cheaper prices. We are bombarded with messages to buy “stuff”. Our cyber world tracks not only our purchases but our unfulfilled desires to buy “stuff” and then targets those patterns of acquisition and fantasy with pinpointed missiles of seduction on Face Book, spam and even the ads that pop-up on any site we visit…

And yet our national credit card debt is going down. It turns out to get “stuff” you need some form of money, borrowed and earned, and as our net worth’s have tanked by  about a third, it turns out our hunger for “stuff” is self-regulating.

There is a fine line between desire and entitlement. Our culture regularly crosses that line – and our “stuff” reflects that. If one is good 3 are better and 12 is an “investment”. This week The Real Life Survival Guide touched on the fact that we often have a bigger hunger for “stuff” than what we can manage, let alone afford.

There comes a point where we go broke, not in terms of money, but in terms of our capacity to cope with too much “stuff”. “Organizing Systems” are now a cottage industry, with experts, gatherings and, of course, products.

All of these retroactive make-up calls for having gone on a “stuff” bender are flailing attempts to control attitudes that have abandoned rationality in a rush to satiate some inner hole with “stuff”.

You cannot fill emotional holes with “stuff”. Or food.  Or the wrong partner. Or politics. Emotional holes are filled with knowing who you are, not who you, or all those “stuff” purveyors, want you to want to be.

So pull back. Feel the truth. Your “stuff” either reflects what you value or how much your life falls short of them.

Words have meaning – “stuff” is the textureless, undifferentiated, bland matter that we could care less about, and when we “stuff” away that “stuff” it’s to get it out of sight, and thus out of mind.

Purge if that’s you, organize if you love what you have, but do not let guilt paralyze you or think anything you buy will change your life. “stuff”, in the end, is just “stuff.”


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