If I’ve seemed a bit scatty recently, it’s because we decided to sell our house and do the apartment thing. I’m sure you can all imagine just how consuming this sort of thing is. I think about medieval households who packed and moved to a new residence on a regular basis.
Of course they had servants. And much less stuff.
Why do we have so much stuff? How is it that after extensive decluttering, including shipping a truck load to the beloved offspring now living elsewhere, many loads to the dump and charity, plus offerings on Freecycle and Craigslist, we still have too much stuff!
People in the past, even some wealthy people, got by with a lot less, and did just fine because we don’t
need all this stuff, do we? Of course there were always the inveterate collectors, like John Soane, who had to buy the house next door to hold it all. If you’re in London, don’t miss this small but fascinating museum, especially if you’re interested in late Georgian/Regency living as the house is pretty well preserved as it was and the living spaces are typical. How many people here have been to the Soane Museum?
Wow! I see they have free audio, including an introduction by Stephen Fry, (Jeeves to Hugh Laurie’s House. Watching that, and then House, is quite a mind-bending experience.)
Back to the Soane museum. There are some pictures of the interior here. It’s actually a site about selling one’s house, which seems appropriate to today’s theme.
This is the description of the classic tour of Soane House. "A 60MB ZIP file containing
32 individual MP3 files (totaling 87MB) will be downloaded to your
computer. The files will be placed on your desktop or into your audio
software (i-Tunes, Windows Media Player or the software that came with
your MP3 player or phone). If the files are placed on your desktop,
select them all and drag or import them into your audio software. Then transfer all the files to
your portable player, following the instructions supplied with your MP3
player or iPod and you’re ready to listen."
Isn’t that fabulous? I don’t have time to listen just now, so if you do and discover something fascinating, share it here.
Back to the stuff. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had some Roman pillars and an Egyptian sarcophagus to house, but instead it’s too many cups, pillow cases, and waste paper baskets….
Which raises another thought. I got into a discussion online somewhere about when the waste paper basket, by whatever name, came into existence, and what it was called. As I noted above, in the past people had less stuff and threw less away. No paper tissues for the nose. No used-up ball-point pens. If purchased goods were wrapped, that brown paper or box would be put to some other use. But did that Georgian squire truly not need a receptacle for things of no further use? If so, when did the item come into existence?
Any enlightenment gladly received. Humorous speculation too. 🙂
Back to the stuff. Does anyone have time to look up the origin and date of the word "clutter?" If it goes back to the Anglo-Saxons, I will despair. And when did we embrace the idea — but rarely the practice — of "decluttering?"
Does anyone have any helpful suggestions for breaking this magnetic attraction to excess stuff?
Despite the above, I actually like things around me. I couldn’t live in a minimalist abode, with every surface clear except for a carefully placed piece of stark art. Flat surfaces are made to be put upon, says I. And many inclined ones, too! I like quirky objects, interesting fabrics, plants, fountains and bells everywhere. (Which box are my fountains in?)
It’s the stuff I don’t need, and don’t even want that’s driving me scatty. Why, why, why? Look around you and tell me the nearest piece of "stuff" blighting your world — by which I mean, something you don’t need, don’t want, and would be better off without. (And no, it can’t be one of your nearest and dearest.*G*) If possible, take a picture. You can’t share pictures in comments, but I can share some later.
On Saturday night, round about midnight pacific time, I’ll pick the best, or worst, one, and the winner will get a free book. But ONLY if she or he has already got rid of that bit of stuff. Oh, and the picture at the top? Cabbage Patch Kids might be stuffed, but are never "stuff." Flowers can sometimes be stinky and a prelude to unwanted seed-heads, but they’re not stuff either.
Is "stuff" always manufactured by humans? There’s a depressing thought.
Jo — back to the boxes, seeking fountains — water, wisdom, whatever….