I’ve been on an almost ten year exploration of how to let go of stuff. And money. Money and stuff. You’ll kindly note, the ten year reference magically matches that of my marriage to AB. Yes. Yes it does. And he is so good about not attaching himself to “things”. He has a few items of value to him. Keepsakes, if you will. But his attachment to them is minimal. If he lost them, he would be disappointed, but not shaken down.
Letting go of stuff, for me – well, that’s like…akin to sacrilege. Somehow, stuff became part of my identity. Still is, if I’m honest with you. And I have many tubs of stuff in my attic. Scrapbooks and pictures and letters, cards, and clothes I can’t seem to let go of. I mean, important clothes. Like dresses or camp t-shirts, or concerts t’s. Whatever. You know what I mean.
And then there’s my little house. I mean, I am not a clutter person. At all. But I like my house to be just so. Especially when people come over. And I’m really worked up about things looking right and being clean, and having nice things. My house. My stuff. Somehow equaling who I am.
And more and more I see women everywhere acquiring stuff. Things. Items. Building nests and in some cases cocoons and in other cases, tombs. Tombs of things they want. Need. Have to have. Love. Desire. Can’t do without.
Today, I was at the mall with the kids. And we strolled casually past the entrance to Pottery Barn. The grown up one. The one with every perfect and beautiful thing for your home just inside…just over the threshold of that doorway. Perfect decor for Fall…pillows, warm ivory throws, candles, couches, table settings…fixtures…on and on. And while my eyes lingered on each gorgeous piece in the window displays, and I casually had to caress the drool away from my mouth, I audibly said “yes, please…” to everything I was looking at. And on we walked…slow motion like. I was sad. And I had a momentary pang of…I don’t know…frustration that I can’t have those things. That belief that somehow those things would make me happier. Make my home better. Make things better.
And this is what I want to ask: To what end?
The county in which we live is quite…wealthy. We are not. Not at all. But there are many very wealthy people, and many fabulously large homes and even mansions. The popular thing to do where we live? Shop and eat. And shop. And many of the stores around here cater to that. The wife or woman shopper – the homemaker. Scratch that. The trendy homemaker. The “gotta have it” homemaker.
And to tell you the truth, I’ve spent many years battling this feeling. Though we’ve never been in a position to afford those luxuries, I’ve always been at war with myself…internally…wanting what I haven’t got. Wanting what she’s got. Wanting what I think I need. Wanting this perfect thing or that incredible thing. Wanting the perfect house. The perfect wardrobe (ha…that’s hilarious coming from this baseball hat wearing, t-shirt/jeans loving mama! But still…)
To what end? Isn’t there more to life than stuff? Aren’t relationships and life experience better than a new couch or dinnerware? I have been to some really, really discouraging places. Poor, poor parts of the world. And yet. I have dined with people who’ve shared with me, maybe what very little they had to offer – in a sparse one-room living area…and had some of the best, most memorable, most meaningful times of my life.
I’ve spent the last few years of my life trying to let go. Let go of my need for what the trends say my house should look like. Trying to let go of what fashion mags tell me I should look like. Trying to let go. Trying to embrace the “less is more” approach to living. Trying to donate more, purge more, and let go. Find ways to give more. Or start opening myself up to letting go so that I can do what God would have me do. Or listen more closely so that I can be who He wants me to be. Better serve those He would have me serve. Understand what He truly desires for me.
And I’m pretty certain, it isn’t stuff. I’m pretty sure the proverbial washing of someone else’s feet does not require a porcelain washing basin from Restoration Hardware, tempting though it might be.
I’m pretty sure, fine though all these things are…that He didn’t put me here so that I could spend x number of years doing as I please and making myself happy and surrounding myself with stuff.
Letting go of the need for a better car. A bigger home. Finer things.
Because I’ve sat across the table from those who the world would consider to have nothing. And I have to tell you, they seemed to have so much more. In so many ways. So much more than I had accumulated in my own life. They had more inner joy, peace, and happiness in their humble surroundings – than I’ve ever managed to conjure up in all my years of trying to be what I think I’m supposed to be. Who I’m supposed to be. What I’m supposed to be.
Stuff does not equal happiness. Maybe temporarily, but you can’t take it with you. I’m learning more and more, that I must focus on others and let go of myself. Move towards the happiness that comes from living free from the burdens of “keeping up”.
Stuff is just stuff at the end of the day. Home is really where those you love are. I don’t really think having stuff…no matter how expensive or nice, is really having anything at all, at the end of the day. And for that matter, I don’t think it’s the point of this life.
Living life matters. People matter. Relationships matter. Serving others matters.
All these years spent thinking that I want what “they” have? I think I’m finally learning that I don’t want what they don’t have…