Too Much Stuff


by Karen Newcombe

I woke up a few days ago and felt like I was suffocating. 

There are boxes of vinyl records and photo books in my bedroom, a table saw in the living room, stuff on the kitchen counters, piles of paper in the office, boxes of tools and kid's toys in the guest room. So many clothes in the closet I can hardly get more clothes into it, so there's a pile of clothes sitting on the ironing board – all the time. 

I'm intensely frustrated at the sheer amount of stuff in my house. Every surface has at least one thing on it. 

Cleaning my house has become an immense endeavor that takes a minimum of several hours. I have to move stuff to vacuum and mop. I am constantly shifting stuff around trying to find a place where this hair tie or stack of papers or notes from a phone call or pair of shoes will stay put and out of my way forever. But the place I want to put the shoes already has shoes in it. Lots of shoes. I don't even recognize some of them. When did I get these? Have I ever worn them?

I spend so much time managing stuff that it's keeping me from doing the thing I love to do more than anything in the world: write. I love writing. I love words, sentences and paragraphs in the way that some people love their mates or their countries. But I struggle to find writing time. Stories, poems, and essays churn around in the back of my brain all night, but in the daylight, the sheer physical presence of The Stuff wins. I start straightening up, shifting stuff around again. 

I have finally realized what every red-blooded 21st Century American consumer is loathe to admit – I have too much stuff. Way more stuff than I need or want. Stuff that eats up my space and takes an immense amount of my attention.

If I want to have the time and space for my own writing, the stuff has to go. I'm 57, and I don't want to spend the second half of my life just moving stuff out of the way so I can set other stuff down.

I want my time back so I can do what I love: write, exercise, spend time with my family and friends, perhaps do a little painting. 

The stuff has to go. 

Photo credit: Keller Holmes / Foter / CC BY

© Karen Newcombe 2014