Does Stuff Anchor Us Down?
Once upon a time, I thought it was really cool to be the kind of person whose every possession could fit in the back of a car. That's the kind of person I wanted to be. Someone who traveled light. Who could flit from place to place without care. A vagabond. I moved every year.
Then I moved to Los Angeles and stayed their for seven years. I bought stuff. Lots of it. A TV, a couple hundred books, clothes, furniture. I even owned my fridge. I was no longer the kind of person whose possessions fit in the back of a car. And I liked it that way. After four years of being a vagabond, I had a home again. And all that stuff helped me to view Los Angeles as home. In the seven years I lived in LA, I only moved once. Too much stuff. Who wants to move all that stuff? My things wereÂ holding me down.
Then I left Los Angeles, and got rid of most of the stuff. I no longer own a fridge. Or much furniture at all. My possessions once again could fit in the back of a car. Well, at least, they could fit in the back of a mini-van. I feel freer to roam about the world without all that stuff weighing me down.
On the other hand, I no longer feel like I have a real home.
It's strange, but I do believe that in a way our possessions are an important means of anchoring us down, and making us feel we're home. Without our own stuff, we're merely visitors. As an ethical consumer, I try to buy very little. And there is very little I actually use. But, I realize, sometimes, it's not about actually using all your things. It is, sometimes, just about having them there to make you feel settled.
Maybe the answer is balance. Maybe it's okay if my stuff does not fit in the back of a car, as long as I don't let my stuff keep me from taking on the world.