Sunday, September 19, 2010


Elizabeth Willis Barrett September 9, 2010

My stuff is drowning me. It seems to be in every nook and cranny of my life and it proliferates more profusely than rabbits do.

There is stuff everywhere. There are so many places for it to germinate. There is my purse, of course, filled to overflowing with receipts and shopping lists, makeup (all but what I happen to need at the moment), new and used Kleenexes and far too many pens and pencils. One thing my purse is usually short on is cash. Thank goodness I have my Southwest Visa and Wells Fargo Debit Card in there with my Café Rio frequent diner cards, half used gift cards, Mesa and Gilbert library cards, and grocery store reward cards. I even carry a Smiths Market card although I can only use it in Utah.

Unfortunately, I don’t just have one purse, but several, each with its own array of stuff. I have a huge jean bag that I take on trips and never seem to find the time to empty between our comings and goings.

Stuff even accumulates in my computer case: papers I might need, extra cords and flash drives and, again, a supply of pens and pencils. The computer itself is full of stuff, too—speeches and lessons and ideas and papers written long ago that might contain bits of wisdom worth saving. I would love to sit down and delete unnecessary material but that would take a great deal of time.

I have so many little bits of this and that around. For example, whenever we go out of town I grab a tiny Ziploc bag and fill it with Ibuprofen and Excedrin just in case leg aches or splitting headaches attack. Not that they do much but who wants to run to a hopefully nearby Circle K to buy a remedy? Not me. Pretty soon I find those little bags full of red and white pills everywhere—in my purse, in my underwear drawer, in the car’s side pocket.

Then there are spiral notebooks that contain bits of this and that. I have stacks of them that I bought at Wal-Mart’s “after school’s beginning sale” for 10 cents each. They are wonderful to have. I grab the closest one and jot down a writing idea or grab another and record a recipe or a phone number or a great thought for a talk or a list of necessary errands, or interesting facts or quotes from the book I’m listening to. At this moment I have 22 spiral notebooks stacked next to the computer. They are in varying degrees of raggedness and each has only the first few pages written on—some with profound thoughts or messages that I am anxious to transfer to appropriate places on the computer, my already stuffed computer.

My guitar case is not immune to stuff with its papers from lessons and notes on chord progressions. My voice class notebook could use some editing and so could my writing notebook that is filled with our writing group’s journalistic gems. There are also several camera cases swollen with their own miscellany.

The file drawers are bulging with articles and warranties and bank papers and ideas for this and that. They should be sorted through too. Every drawer in the house, in fact, needs to be put on a stringent diet along with the closets.

Some people are just magnets for stuff. You should see the cupboards that hold the scrapbooks! No, never mind. It’s not a pretty sight. And I’m not even an official “scrap-booker.” Heaven help us if I ever got into that. I have plenty of pictures and papers to save without the embellishments and cutesy artwork so many find necessary to show off their treasures.

I have tons of music in a four-drawer file that one day I’m going to have to acknowledge has never been looked at in a good 10 years. The refrigerator has too much stuff—inside and out. And then there’s my head. It is also filled with stuff—ideas and books and songs and thoughts and ambitions and goals and worries and hopes.

On a trip to Argentina, we were having a delicious dinner in a very humble home. I foolishly asked if they had any second-hand stores around. Our sweet hostess looked at me a little strangely after my son had translated my question into Spanish. “No,” she answered. “We don’t have extra things to take to a second-hand store.” I, unfortunately, could open up my own second-hand store just with the stuff in my house—unnecessary and unneeded stuff. Well, I might need to add the stuff from a friend or two to really get started.

Maybe if I quit doing all the stuff that adds to my stuff, I would finally have time to get rid of the stuff that doesn’t matter. Hmmm, no, I’m not ready to quit doing all I’m doing yet.

But I really do want to clean up and out. I’ll actually love doing it. It will take weeks and weeks but I’m gearing up for a thorough and complete cleansing. I’m ready to rid myself of sentimentality and arm myself with the realization that if I haven’t used the article called “WAIT” in the last 20 years, I’m probably not going to use it in the next 20.

My stuff has brought me a measure of joy but it’s time to be done with a lot of it. And when I finally become stuff-free, it will feel wonderful!

1 comment:

Tami Allred said...

Good luck with this humongous goal. I'm with ya sista! I need to do the same thing. Where oh where to begin and then when?