The weight of things

Joe, an enthusiastic surfer, joins us at the cafe, in the port. He says he is helping his stepmother empty the basement of her house, overflowing with  collections of her late husband: toys, beer bottles, stamps, National Geographic, in short, more or less everything that he could collect.  This gruelling process requires them to send the  collections to  Britain to be sold at auction. He  believes they won’t find anybody  in New Zealand who can buy as many items. He then  told us  that when his first wife died, he felt able to get on with  his life only  when he  gave away  all they had in common. He met his second wife recently and they have  ended  up with two of everything : they even share a dozen bikes. He therefore concludes,  simply and philosophically :  too much stuff, too much food, too much booze. It pretty much sums up the feeling that overcomes me more and more  often when I am in  big cities (but not only) and  find myself in a mall or other crowded area of shops. At   first, I am  delighted by the novelty, but then I quickly feel overwhelmed by the weight of things and food, we are constantly exposed to. Then I see the same  stuff sold in charity shops, and tell  myself that I  could easily furnish an entire house with what is there but, above all, that the earth could take a ten year  break to release the earth of  the surplus that we seem to have accumulated. Buying anything has therefore become for me an increasingly complicated  process. Thanks to Joe, I feel a little less alone.

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11 thoughts on “The weight of things”

  1. I have had to clear out the belongings and collections of others who have passed away…it is not easy. Fortunately, only one was a “pack rat.” Sometimes it feels like you are also trashing the person who has died, and clinging to their things means they’re not really gone.
    I have also moved house many times, and each time I get rid of more “stuff.” I’ve tried to follow William Morris’s idea: you should keep nothing in your home except what is beautiful or useful.
    Someone also has said that it doesn’t matter how much room you have, things will gradually accumulate to fill whatever space it is. Even though I don’t buy much of anything now, except necessities, some things which are purely precious mementos of a long life are difficult for me to throw away. I do give some away.
    I think the urge to divest, not to accumulate, comes with age. The older I get, the more attractive the simple, unattached life of a buddhist monk appears. In the end, one person’s treasures are the next person’s trash….and it will be the burden of others to discard ours when we’re gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have had this experience (of clearing out), only once and indirectly, and know little about it but am sure I would find it very difficult (going to flea markets depresses me). There is a difference, indeed, between “stuff” and treasures and it will vary according to individuals. Thank you for your thoughts Cynthia

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  2. I stand with you on this. It is easy to collect things, and how much do we need? Space is limited, so it’s best to keep, ans Cynthia says, only what gives pleasure or is useful. But consumerism–and the encouragement toward it–is puzzling and a bit disturbing.

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      1. Actually, when I go out to buy something–Christmas gifts, underwear, I’m often surprised at the products out there as I simply don’t shop regularly except for food. Usually once a year I notice something that would be really useful because I’m out looking for others. I suppose not watching television helps.

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      2. Just passing in front of the shops to go to the supermarket is dangerous. Of course, I do not have to look, but I cannot help it. And then que process begins : do I want this ? Do I need this ? Do I really need this ? Where would I put it ? and so on….

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