Being blessed with a successful career allowed me to live a life filled with comfort and acquiring material things, the quantity of which go far beyond what I now consider ‘normal’. With the ability to “have” I overdid it to where the magnitude of my possessions have become something of a curse. It never occurred to me at the time of buying that one day I would have to do something with it all. So easy it came to convert money into things, but the conversion of things back into money is difficult and time-consuming.
When I was fifteen I met a boy a couple of years older who had more record albums than I had ever seen any place except a record store. I decided “he who has the most records wins” and from that thought I began a collection that is now well over 4000 LPs. Then there are the 45′s, cassettes and CD’s that come along with a healthy addiction to music. Without doubt it is wonderful to be able to listen to just about anything I want when I want to. What is not so great is that a hundred records weights about eighty pounds and my collection LPs weighs about two tons! Over time I have moved them from the Atlantic to the Pacific and lots of other places in between. There’s a little bit of harmless insanity within that somewhere.
My music collection is just the beginning. There’s all the DVD’s and Blueray’s (thankfully most of the VHS tapes are gone!). Don’t even get me started about a book collection that runs about 150 linear feet! And then all the antiques and collectables I have amassed. My home is about 3500 sq feet and while cluttered it is orderly and organized. But then there is the ten by 25 foot storage until full of stuff also. It blows my mind now that I managed to acquire all this “stuff”.
Moving into a different phase of my life now with wishes for more freedom, I have a sizeable task in front of me. Once I stop working at a regular job every day (soon) so I chase more of my dreams, one of my first tasks has to be scaling back on the sheer quantity of my material possessions. I am more than a little embarrassed that I mindlessly spent so many years building this mountain of stuff that is now a burden. Looking ahead I hope to adopt more of the attitude of William Henry Channing:
To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable,
and wealthy, not, rich;
to listen to stars and birds,
babes and sages, with open heart;
to study hard;
to think quietly,
in a word, to let the spiritual,
unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common
…this is my symphony.
To not be too hard on myself, it is important to acknowledge that one can not see the next horizon past the one currently in view. When younger there was much satisfaction in enjoying my hobbies, shopping for antiques and showing off my treasures. Then it would have been impossible to know the wisdom that comes from living past my “acquiring years”. I am grateful for the clarity to see I spent a large part of my life climbing the ‘stuff mountain’. Now I am now on the other side where it is liberation from material things I wish to gain. For me, this is a VERY important nugget of wisdom!
Anything you cannot relinquish
when it has outlived its usefulness
and in this materialistic age
a great many of us
are possessed by our possessions.