I have a love/hate relationship with stuff. I own too many things. Not all of it sparks joy, that Marie Kondo test to decide whether to keep something or eliminate it.
I’ve gotten rid of things along the way, but unless I move and have to do a major purge, things flow into my house at a faster rate than they flow out. Having lived in the same place for nearly 20 years, stuff has accumulated.
The percentage of stuff I use regularly is…small.
Some of the stuff is seasonal, stored until the season rolls around again.
Some is aspirational: those pants I’ll fit into once I’ve dropped 10-pounds.
Some is, if I’m brutally honest, fantastical: am I really going to read Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human or George Lakoff’s Moral Politics?
As I look at the books on my nearby shelf, different characters lumber forward in my brain: one drizzles guilt over me for wasting money buying them and for adding to the household clutter; its’ fraternal twin reminds me that they’re all used books, it wasn’t much money, and besides, I love books.
Another character embraces the aspirational promise of the books and celebrates my continued interest in learning; its’ fraternal twin grumbles I’ll never read them and I know it; they’ll end up donated to the library so all they really are is clutter.
There’s truth to each voice. It’s why getting rid of things is challenging; there’s conflict within me about whether something should stay or go. It’s why books on decluttering catch my eye; I’m ever hopeful one of them will serve up the magic answer to getting rid of stuff; easily.
I’ve concluded, for me, there is no magic bullet. I can run an item past the spark joy test or the unused for 6 months or does it fit or do I even like it tests.
But my conflicting love/hate reactions will not allow just one character to step forward and represent all of them with a single, unified answer.
Books spark joy for me. I enjoy discovering them at used book stores, buying them, anticipating their contents.
Books also spark guilt for me, when they sit on my shelf unread.
It’s not one or the other. It’s one and the other.
Maybe the path to peace around my stuff is acceptance. Acceptance that my stuff represents multiple facets of my personality. Acceptance that it’s possible to both love something and to feel challenged by it.
Which, when I think about, is what life is all about.