The Weight of My Possessions

I own too much crap!  I’m no hoarder, but I still own too many unused, unwanted, unneeded things.  I hang onto to stuff believing I’ll need it for the future, but after six decades of experience, I’ve hardly ever needed what I saved.

I wish I had an app for my tablet that knew absolutely everything I owned and the last time I used it.  This is a fantasy app, because even if I had such an app, I’d never input all my crap to track.  I wished I had this fantasy app that magically knew everything I owned, when each thing was last used, and counters for all the categories of ownership.  I could contemplate iPossessions every morning when I woke up, and before I went to sleep at night, and it would inspire me to lighten my physical load, and theoretically, every day after that, my spirit would grow lighter.  Aren’t we psychologically burdened by ownership?

How many pair of pants do I own?  I tend to wear my three favorite pairs of jeans over and over.  Many other pairs of pants have hung on their hangers for years unworn.  Why?

I have about 700 hardback books and another 500 digital audio books, plus over a 100 and growing ebooks.  I know I will never read most of them, but I keep saving them.  And like an idiot I keep buying them!  I’m cleaning up my home library/office this morning trying to make more shelf space for books.  Either I need to buy another bookshelf, or get rid of about 20 feet of books stacked in piles around the house.

If you don’t know it exists, why own it?  If you don’t use it, why own it?  If you’re not using something and someone else could, why not give it away?

There are even websites devoted to reduced ownership, like The Minimalists.  Some people like Andrew Hyde, who is a traveler, takes this concept to extremes, he only owns 15 things.  I have no need to go that far, but maybe getting my list below 1,000 items might be a fun challenge.  I’m sure my current list would run more than 5,000.

Some people like to minimalize to save money, like Living on a Dime, which has articles like “How Many Clothes Do I Need?

There’s a website called The Burning House which asks people to submit a photograph and a list of things they would grab to save when their house is on fire.  Think about it!  What would you take?  Those items should be your real prized possessions.

If my house burned down, what would I miss?  What would I cry over not having ever again?  And how many things would I never know that I had lost?

Or think about it this way, what if your house burned down and you got a new one.  What possessions would you replace first?

[After this wonderful pep talk to self, I shall go forth and throw away! ]

{{I hope}}

JWH – 9/29/13

8 thoughts on “The Weight of My Possessions”

  1. Last year i realised exactly this Jim. I have so many things (Books, DVDs, Videogames, Board games, Comics, Clothes) and i don’t even know i own them let alone use them.

    I completely agree. I’m also burdened by them. Since last year i started offloading them either through charity or people i know. I have not missed anything. To be honest i probably don’t even remember all that i’ve given away. My friends can’t understand it. They thing i’m crazy. But it felt so liberating.

    In the beginning i wanted to replace what i gave away with other things. Then i realised that it was the process of acquiring that was the hook. Not the actual ownership and useage. As soon as i would get what i wanted i was onto to the next.

    But i think i’m over this now.

    Now, whenever i consider buying something that will add to my possessions i ask myself not whether i should buy it or not. But why i should buy it. I don’t usually find a satisfactory answer to that.

    1. Costas, I remember your blog posts about giving away things. I think a lot of people are starting to wonder about owning so much stuff. The habit I’m trying to break is buying books in a bookstore. I’m trying to just visit and see what’s new, but not buy. I feel guilty not buying, but over the decades I have spent thousands in my favorite bookstores.

      I allow myself to buy books at the Friends of the Library Bookstore. Books are cheap there, and I have to wait for things to show up. I’m developing patience.

      I’ve started back to subscribing to magazines, but only to ones that give their subscribers access to their entire archive. That way I can give away the paper copy, and my old saved copies, and just read online or on my tablet.

  2. Hey, is there a pattern here, … I remember you gave away all your vinyl albums years ago…. and now you’re buying them back at a premium price….. you’re suppose to sell high and buy low, not the other way around…. Connell

    1. Actually, I get my albums from the Friend of the Library Bookstore for 50 cents each. I bought 60 classical albums for $30, the price of 2 CDs. I look for albums at garage sales, Goodwill, etc. And I try to only get albums that are out of print, cheap and in good condition. I enjoy the bargain hunting, and don’t spend too much money. And I’m willing to give them away if I don’t like them. But it is a pain to shelve and maintain them.

      1. You have become ME…. I am glad you came over to the dark side… sorry, cheap side, the true ZEN of money

  3. I immediately hit this article when I entered a Google search of ‘the weight of my possessions’. I am feeling this at present and have done for years, but it has reached a crescendo and the weight is becoming unbearable, so I decided to look it up and see if anyone else felt this way. I like the above poster’s comment “The process of acquiring that was the hook” – I have come to realize this also, and that description is almost perfect. As much as I enjoy a lot of the possessions I have had/have – it’s never fully been about owning the item or showing the item(s) off. Items that are easy to acquire are often the things I go for, however, in the early days I would spend any amount of money to get the item I wanted whether it be a video game a VCR tape, DVD, book etc, whereas now I do the opposite and try to get things that are bargains and either re-sell for a profit or hoard until I get fed up and have a mega clear-out. DVDs are so cheap now that you can easily overload – but I also have Blu Ray too. Books, DVDs, Blu Rays, Gadgets, Magazines soon mount up and take up loads of space. I am currently trying to clear out as much as I can by selling, giving to charity or friends and family where possible and only retaining my favorite films, books etc – or replacing them (where possible) with digital versions. It’s quite a cathartic process but will we ever be happy with the number of items we possess? Too many? Too little? Will there be a lingering regret for getting rid of some items that we’d rather have kept? Perhaps it’s a lifelong game. A cross to bear. We shall see.

    1. I have often regretted giving some things away, but not many. And except for some photographs I have always been able to find books and movies again with little trouble.

      I’ve started a new process of getting rid of things. I was reading Gail Sheehy’s book, New Passages, and it’s about people making changes in their lives at different ages. Many people in their sixties begin to look backwards and give up on moving forward. I didn’t want to do that. Sheehy says the people in their sixties who are happiest take chances on new things. So I’m giving up on things that make me look backwards. I’ve already found that I was doing that with my Netflix streaming selections. For months now I’ve been watching documentaries about new things, and people doing new things, and I’m phasing out watching old TV shows and movies. I feel a lot more positive.

      I’m glad to know my title helped with your Google search. I try to guess good titles but I don’t think I’m very good at it. Thanks Roger for writing back.

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