Thursday, September 30, 2010


I'm torn.

On the one hand, I really do believe that living a simple life is good. I think Affluenza should be required reading for all western people. I believe that "the less I have, the more I gain" (on a side note, do you know how crazy awesome Metallica and the SF Symphony sound together? Ahem.)

I've been a backpacker and know that I can carry everything I need on my back, turtle-style. I think voluntary simplicity, the work that the Center for a New American Dream does, and occasionally going without cell phones and constant internet are all fantastic or even wholly necessary things.

On the other hand, I was raised in not one, but TWO households like this:

Somewhere between growing up in two homes, constantly leaving possessions in the wrong place, moving roughly 29 times in my life thus far, losing items in said moves, and having the genetic coding of a packrat, I have developed a serious complex about my things.

I have this fantasy of all of my things being under ONE ROOF for the first time since I was five. Maybe even by the time I turn thirty. It will happen someday. It will happen sooner if I have less shit.

But - I'm very attached to a lot of my things. Particularly gifts from others. Like a beanie baby I was given in high school. I don't particularly want the beanie baby, but I like what it represents and can't get rid of it. But I don't really know what to do with it, either.

I was recently sent this quote, just as I was thinking about this topic [Ed note: this quote may or may not come from a Scientology ad. But I like the sentiment. On a similar note, I once found out that one of the quotes I used on my yearbook page came from a Macintosh computer ad, but I still like it, too. (I will not, however, be doing any linking to any scientology sites, proper citation be damned.)]

"I am not my car, my job, my spouse, my family, my house, my neighborhood, my level of education, the clothes I wear, the friends I keep, or the food I eat. So if those things are not me, then who am I?

My identity lies in my authentic self; the self that is there even after I sell my car, or move to another country.

The point I am trying to make is: if I were to lose my possessions, or change them, would I still exist? And my answer to this is, yes, of course. That is why I don’t entangle my identity with my physical environment. I drive a nicer car now, yes, but I’m still the same woman who drove the old car. I own a wonderful home in the suburbs, but this hasn’t changed me from who I was when I lived in an apartment in the city. And if I had to sell my home, or downgrade my car, I would still be the same person.

Not to say that people don’t change, or things don't change, but I am saying that people should not think they will change because of their things.

Possessions don’t make people."

It is sort of an interesting thought piece, if not particularly well written or profound. Because lots of people do identify themselves by those first few categories. I think of myself as a San Franciscan. And a pescetarian. I think my education does shape who I am in some respects. However, I don't think my job defines me (or does it define me as someone who cares more about her free time and social life than a career?)

Anyways, I could go back and forth about the other definitions for ages. But as I'm prepping for a yardsale and a move, I think I'll keep the last sentence as a mantra. My possessions do not define me. I do not need to keep my grandfather's clock. I do not need to move every book I have ever read across the country.

Now, if I can say that enough times so that it stops giving me palpitations, we'll be in good shape.

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