All our stuff

It's the 1st of October - and on the first of any given month the roads are strewn with vehicles hauling furniture to new homes as people shift here and there.  I passed a couple of cars  with trailers piled high, every belonging imaginable on, in and around the vehicle.  Probably only one of many trips.

Having recently done the whole move thing myself, I got to wondering (as one does when driving a slow vehicle through Saturday morning "rush" traffic).

Just how much stuff do we actually need?

Way back when we were all nomads, before we grew crops and built houses, what was needed to "live" might have been merely what you could carry or strap to a pack-beast.  Something to cook in, something to kill with, something to sleep on.  You wore your only clothing.

And then someone got the bright idea that a pillow would be nice.  And perhaps sitting on the ground was not cool - another pillow would do there too.  So add two pillows to the pack-beast.  But the pillow got dirty, so add a stool to put it on - and at the same time elevate yourself above the rest of your fire-side-mates.

Then the wife said she'd like to make more than a one-pot meal - so you got her another pot.  And then added airs and graces, and a couple of bowls to eat the meal out of.  Then everyone wanted their own food-knife, so those were added to the pack-beast.  Which in turn started to collapse under the load - so you got a second pack-beast.

This opened up the opportunity for carrying a lot more stuff, and pretty soon you decided grass wasn't good enough to sleep on - a people-size pillow would be nice.  Queue more pack-beast load.

Eventually you had so much stuff you needed to start leaving some of it somewhere.  And having  a cave to store it in meant you could accumulate more stuff.  But once someone else decided to help themselves to your stuff while you were out hunting, you then went and built a house that could lock up so no-one could steal your stuff.  And then filled every room....

Which is why when we moved out of a two-bedroom house with no garage into a three-bedroom house with a garage, we had to hire a 6x3m storage unit to house all our extra stuff that wouldn't fit in here! :-)

What is it about us humans that make us want to accumulate things?  Surround ourselves with objects that gather dust, get tripped over, break and have to be replaced - but which, we've decided, make life worth "living"?

And what would happen if we stripped all that away, sat down and sorted through everything - and only kept the things we actually needed to survive?

Doubt we ever will - it's a slippery slope, this stuff-accumulation.

But fun nonetheless to ponder on a day that sees much moving in and out across the land.


redsaid said...

We're asking the same thing over here... because my sister will be moving out of this gorgeous, sprawling farmhouse soon to a new, smaller house in town. It's a necessary move (my brother-in-law was murdered here eight months ago), but one that still breaks our hearts... and our backs.

And I've since discovered that the size of your dwelling is similar to a handbag. No matter how large or small it is, I will find a way to fill it to the brim!