Getting Rid of Stuff

Aug 10, 2010 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I'm not an accumulator as a rule. Neither is my sweetheart, so it surprised me when I made a list of all the cupboards, drawers, closets and any other nooks and crannies and decided to declutter. As I said, we are not stuff people.

Lo and behold, it's taken six months and many bags of stuff (over 10) and several trips to Goodwill, Salvation Army and various book organizations, and finally our home is clear. Where did those bags of stuff come from?

Well, life. Uh, living. Contingency. Attachment.

Stuff happens in our lives, dear one. A gift comes in a lovely box. "Shall we save this to re-gift with?" Sure, and it sits in a closet till one or the other of us finds it, and we make the other look at it, see that it's been in the closet for months--or years--and we have not re-gifted it, and only then can we let it go for someone else's delight and use.

Friends arrive for a party with a really sweet reusable bag carrying their contribution for the evening. The bag gets left behind. Our friends don't need it; they make the bags. We put it away and find it months later. Once again, one of us wakes up, makes the other wake up, and we make a choice.

"What if we neeeeeed it sometime?" I whine.

"Then we get another one."

"What if we need it sometime" is what made cleaning out my grandmother's house after she died so painstaking. She had margarine tubs from 1963 in all stages of decomposition. If we need it, we'll get it again. Do we need it now is the issue? If we do, will we use this one? Stuff is made for circulation. In fact, humans are made for circulation.

Here's another one. "But it was my _______ !." (You fill in the blank--mother's, great grandfather's, favorite aunt's.) No matter. Do you use it now? Sure, there are some things attachment mandates that you keep. My grandfather, an atheist, was a devout fly fisherman. He kept a prayer cut from a newspaper about biting fish under the glass blotter on his desk. I still have it. Can't let that one go yet.

My sweetheart's parents both died in the last year. They had pretty weeded out when they moved from their own home to assisted living, and still there was giveaway to do.

We live in Western culture where stuff really does happen. The issue isn't that. The issue is what do we do with it when it does? Do we stuff our stuff? Do we stay conscious about it? Do we wallow in it? Does stuff run us? Or do we run stuff?

I'm pretty sure that in another couple years, I'll get the urge to de-stuff our home once again because stuff happens, but in the meantime, we're living clutter-free and I feel free as a result.

For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso's website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook.