Lion Goodman faces years of accumulated stuff when he moves in with his fiance. What he discovers in letting go is surprisingly simple.
It feels great to have prosperity and abundance. Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy it. It has one big downside, however: when you relocate, you have to confront all your stuff.
After 25+ years of having plenty of income, and buying anything I wanted, I accumulated a lot of stuff. Then, for love, I decided to move in with my fiancé. This was the next logical step in our relationship. She didn’t want to move into my nice big house. She wanted us to “start fresh” – in a smaller house. That meant I had to confront more than two decades of accumulated stuff.
George Carlin’s riff on stuff is a perfect reflection on this dilemma (http://bit.ly/1piBvYN). Carlin says, “Your house is really a pile of stuff with a cover on it. It’s a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff! You wouldn’t even need a house if you didn’t have so much goddam stuff…”
After weeks of packing, on Moving Day, a men’s team consisting of nine men showed up as volunteers to relocate hundreds of big boxes, furniture, art, office equipment, and everything else one might need – someday. They loaded up a large moving van plus three pickup trucks – with my stuff. Another whole truckload of stuff was left for another day.
I now know the meaning of “too much.” My next goal is to learn the meaning of “enough.”
In the month-long process of packing, I was forced to go through endless boxes of files, looking at what I was ready to let go of. I re-examined my past, which was an education in itself. I noticed a clear distinction between “I’m ready to let go of this…” and “I’m not ready to let go of this…” I listened to this voice, and at times, argued with it. “Really? That lawsuit ended 3 years ago. It was settled. It’s done. You can’t let go of all the evidence that you were right?”
We are attached to material objects instead of to other human beings.
I did let go of more than 120 gallons of paper files (measured by 30-gallon trash containers). Hundreds of pounds of other stuff went to the garage sale, and to the nice folks at Salvation Army who come to your house to cart away your junk. It was like taking a good poop. Several, in fact.
And yet, I brought with me, or stored, more than 3 tons of possessions. You know the litany. “I might need that someday. It’s a lot cheaper to keep this one than buy a new one when I need it. (That is, if I can find it when I need it…)”
What did I learn by confronting my stuff? I learned that the word “matter” means both physical stuff and what we value. “That matters to me.” I learned that the word has the same root (matr) as the word “mother” and “matrix.” If you didn’t get enough love from your Mother, or if you feel that you don’t matter, stuff can fill up that hole and make you feel safe and secure. George Carlin again: “Have you noticed that other people’s stuff is their shit, and your shit is your stuff?”
We are attached to material objects instead of to other human beings. Babies are supposed to bond with their mother. In the 50’s, newborn infants were taken away from their mother and placed in sterile bassinets. Instead of bonding to flesh and blood, we bonded with the material objects around us. (This was first pointed out by French obstetrician Frederick Leboyer, author of Birth Without Violence.)
I don’t need all this stuff. I need love.
This isolation practice was traumatic to infants, but it was very useful to the people and corporations that wanted to sell us more stuff. Materialism was perfected as people lived in separate houses instead of in community. Everyone needed one or more of everything, since they didn’t share their stuff, as most tribal and native societies did. The advertising and marketing industries reinforced this idea of ownership, and made it a kind of competitive sport. Who’s got the coolest stuff? Do you have the latest whiz-bang thing? Here’s the next shiny object that will give you pleasure, attention, and therefore love.
I have had to stare directly into my own penchant for accumulation, as well as the programming that got me here. I’m not yet clear, but I’m getting clearer. I don’t need all this stuff. I need love.
The good news is that I made this major move for love. My fiancé has been supportive throughout this difficult process. She lives simply. I live a big, complex life. I’m now learning to shrink my geographic footprint, and recognize the difference between what I need and what I want. I am looking directly into this shadow that has deep roots and programming from personal, psychological, familial, societal, and cultural influences.
It’s time for a revolution in thinking, doing, and most of all, having. I’ve started my own personal revolution by staring directly into my stuff.
What will you face into?
This post is republished on Medium.
Photo credit: iStock