Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Problem With Stuff

I have been somewhat absent from the blogworld for the last few weeks, because I have had to deal with stuff. Really, literally, I have had to deal with lots of STUFF! You see, although I moved last November to my house, I stored a lot of things on the property I managed for the last ten years with the permission of the owners. The problem with having stuff is that, at some point, you'll have to move said stuff. Finally, I got up the nerve to tackle moving a lifetime of accumulated stuff over to my house. I now have all my stuff in my back yard. The rest of the summer will be spent trying to sort, sell and store all this stuff, before the winter rains come in.

My backyard now looks like Sanford and Son’s Junk Yard. I honestly considered making a sign that read “Brown and Daughter’s Stuff”. Then rather than sorting all my stuff, just open my backyard to the public, and let them rummage through, until they found a treasure to buy. As they say, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

The amazing thing about most of my stuff is that I never even purchased it. Almost everything in my house and backyard was either given to me, or found in vacant units that I managed. And even more remarkable is the fact that last September, I had a “Free Flea” where I gave away about twice as much as I now have in my back yard. Living in a poor neighborhood, over 100 people came and were blessed by this Free Flea. You would think that poor folks in America would not have much stuff but in fact, the poorer people are, the more stuff they seem to have. A big problem for poor people is when they have no money they feel poor, and stuff seems valuable, so almost instinctively they accumulated it.

I think I accumulated so much just because I knew that someone would need it someday. The stuff that I have the hardest time letting go of is memories. I have boxes of letters, pictures, and files that I should get rid of, but I hold on to them to keep my memories alive. For example, I have a letter my brother, Dan, wrote me on the back of a doggie bag in 1968, when I first went to college. I have my daughter, Shannon’s Christmas lists, when she could still write; and all the little pictures she drew, when she could still see. How can I get rid of those? My great plan is to scan all these personal treasures and put them on DVD’s. The big question is, will I live long enough to accomplish this great feat; and who will care once I’m gone? Well, it will certainly keep me occupied for a while. And so the downsize continues as does life. To everything there is a season. A time to accumulate and a time to let go. It is definitely my time to let go of a lot of things.

PS: I discovered a very interesting video on Stuff you might like. It was a real eye opener to me.


  1. I have played that same scene many times. We down size a few times. We always found people who needed the stuff we were letting go of.. It is always a great feeling knowing that you can help others out and bless them.. It is Never fun though having to lug things all around and sort through them. But all in all if you can bless some with your stuff, then it was worth it. :) thanks for Chere-ing :)
    Rev Deb

    Ps give Shannon a great big HUG for me!! :)

  2. You have some precious keepsakes from your daughter.

    It's so great that you share your stuff rather than just throwing it away. It is a good feeling to see others enjoy stuff you have enjoyed.

    Nice blog.

  3. Having a lot of stuff makes me nervous. feel like it's pinning me down. I hold on to so little. When it accumulated, like you, I would go into yard sale mode or find someone who needs it. But still you never know how much you have until you start packing.

  4. We too, are relatively "poor," and therefore people offer us a lot of things and give us stuff. However, we have 8 people in our house, so all the stuff lying around is really, really oppressive to me. I would SO much rather have some empty space and peace in my house than to have to find homes for "stuff" all the time.

    My dh grew up incredibly poor and has found it next to impossible to overcome the feeling of deprivation or the notion that he must hold on to something or do without if the time comes he would need it. Over and over we have purged spaces (garages, attics, etc) only to have him fill them up again. One time we had to convert a garage to a bedroom and filled a 20-cubic-yard pull-car dumpster 2/3 full from the garage. There were 7 TV sets he had hauled home from people's curbs bc he thought if ours broke down, it might be cheaper to fix one of those instead.

    3 years ago we had to move from a 3000 sq. ft. house to a 1400 sq. ft. one. I left probably more than a ton of stuff behind, but while I was at work, he took the van back and brought the stuff to the new house (thereby burying the boxes of baby clothes I was going to need in 3 months, which I found a year later). Now we are needing to convert the back screen porch into usable space, so we are having to purge once again.

    I think it is time for some inner healing.

  5. The "Story of Stuff" video contains several lies. For example, we do not spend more than 50% of our budget on the military (more like 21%) and we actually have more than 100% the number of trees we had to start with (4% only includes natural trees that were here to begin with). I also disagree with some of her rhetoric like "it's the government's job to take care of us." But anyway.



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