Too much stuff

Posted on August 26, 2013

Lots of possessions make life more complicated. When I was young and living in my parents’ house, my dad constantly complained about my messiness. When he was being nice about it, he’d say, “Chansin, you’re such a good daughter… almost perfect … if only you could keep your room clean!” And then on his mean days he’d say, “You’re such a pig!”

My dad is a perfectionist in cleanliness and organization. He’s got a huge workshop and every tool has a special place on a hanging pegboard or in a drawer. Nothing is out of place. Me, on the other hand …Well, I’m not a perfectionist. But I’ve been working towards a more organized life my entire adulthood. And I’ve improved a lot.

I have always taken ownership of my bad habits. But this summer, I had a revelation. My parents are partly to blame for my messiness. Why? They gave me too much stuff. Where was I supposed to put all those toys? They didn’t fit in my room! I didn’t have a workshop with a pegboard where every single thing had its own place. My things would naturally spill out into the living room and kitchen.

And when Christmas came, I was not taught to get rid of a few toys to make room for the new. Rather, I got a bazillion new shiny, wonderful things … that I would try to pack into my bulging closet. I loved birthdays and Christmas. My parents are extremely generous. They have always showed love through gift-giving.

Where should I put all my possessions? I needed a better system of organization. Chansin, Put your barbies in this box, and put your trolls over here, and…  And if I couldn’t keep things in their place, then maybe I shouldn’t have gotten more things at the next gift-exchange. Is that too harsh? Would my little-kid self have understood?

It’s hard to not over-consume. I have money, I see pretty things, and I want to buy them. But where will they go? And is it good for my soul to have all these things? I spend SO much time picking up and organizing and cleaning. This summer – after googleing something like “ways to simplify” – I learned what a “minimalist” is. They are people who purposely live with as few things as they can because it makes their lives better. As I purged stuff from my garage, closets, and drawers before moving, I found their websites to be motivational.

Teresa of Avila said, “Thank God for the things that I do not own.” I really believe life is easier when you have less things. So I’m working in that direction. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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