In praise of stuff. A comment on the culture of a clutter free life:
Someone walked into my house and said ‘my, you have a lot of stuff’, like it’s a bad thing. Again. You'd think there were piles of the stuff. (There is not)
It’s the hip thing to be minimalist. The whole declutter trend is running hot, I get that. It is also a choice. I happen to love my stuff.
I spent 16 years abroad. I lost track of how many years I spent living out of my backpack, or gave away a household’s worth of goods to set off with just a backpack again. I loved living simply but to be honest, sometimes I craved stuff.
I love that we have craft supplies so when we’re struck with inspiration we can get right down to it. I love that I have a few boxes of fabric stashed and can find a pattern online at 11.30 at night and be sewing it by 11.35.
I have some stunning vintage clothing that I may not wear weekly or even monthly but those dresses bring me great joy and joy is a good thing in my book. We re-use, recycle and upcycle wherever we can like my grandmother and her mother did. Most of my stuff comes from op shops and trades. We live rurally so ‘popping’ into town to pick up supplies isn’t an option.
I understand the consciousness raising around unnecessary stuff, how consumerism is ripping holes in the ozone layer and leaking into the waterways. and how many people compulsively buy crap stuff they don’t really need. That consciousness raising is important work. I do it too. But the judgement is a different beast. No-one is converted to your way of thinking from being judged negatively. Negative judgement creates a disconnect.
We try and buy stuff ethically. That means second-hand or handcrafted stuff. We make stuff ourselves and if we do outsource, I try and give our money to local folks, good folks. My stuff tells a story that dances through twenty countries and meeting eyes with countless talented sparkle-eyed folk.
Before big holidays we do a cull. If anything comes into the house, something else leaves. And I always ask the question, ‘Do I really love it?’ If the answer is not a resounding yes, it stays on the shelf/market stall or in that dumpster.
My house is not cluttered, it is curated. My house is not disorderly or dirty. On the contrary, it is organised and while I won’t be winning any housekeeping awards, it’ll do. I put connection before all else but living in a mess makes my thinking messy. I prefer order. Which isn’t to say the dining table isn’t overrun with science projects in progress or a collection of sea shells at times, because that’s just the way we roll.
I wouldn’t walk into your home and say in a dark tone, ‘Oh sheesh, you need some more stuff in there honey, it looks like a motel’. The minute my house resembles some obsessively unhealthy hoarders home, please action an intervention but otherwise, live and let live huh?