There is a great George Carlin bit about stuff. I use to be a stuff person. I would go on eBay or me and my then wife would go to Target and we would shop as a form of
entertainment. We would go down the aisles of the store or a mall and look for stuff that we didn’t have and then buy it and then likely get rid of it at a yard sale years later.
Well since I’m doing a bit of downsizing in my life I decided to look at how much stuff I didn’t need. I took photos of it all and I placed an ad on craigslist listing all the items for dirt cheap. I actually placed it so low many people asked me if the prices were correct and they would turn down change from me. But it felt good. I was getting rid of Stuff that just filled my house, filled my garage and filled my back yard. Does my house look a little empty now? Yes. The place where the dining room set is so empty it echoes now. My girls came over and didn’t even care. They got very excited. It was similar to the scene in Step Brothers with the bunk beds (foul language). They were excited to have room to run around and play. They got their pop up fire truck and tunnel and had a great time.
I also want to add I met several very nice people that were very happy to have my stuff. A woman that needed my gliding chair because she just had a baby, same reason we bought it. A young family that wanted my hutch to hold all their kids’ art supplies. A man that was also recently divorced and didn’t have a TV and didn’t mind that the one I was selling had some green color to the picture. And a sweet co-ed that needed my grill because she just bought her first home. I was very happy to hand over my once prized positions to these people so they could enjoy them.
So sometimes we justify buying things for our kids, but they don’t care. Most kids need attention and to be loved not toys and distractions. And the same can go for us. My best friend Emily doesn’t even own a TV. She spends most of her time reading or doing work on the computer. She is so in tune with herself that it’s clear that some of the stuff I had in my life was clouding my vision. Watching TV doesn’t bring me joy. If I got rid of cable that would be money I could use to go out to dinner with a friend twice a month.
The point is that we invest so much in material things and we are only distracting ourselves from a need for attention. If we paid more attention to ourselves and stopped paying for stuff we would likely find out how much we didn’t need any of this junk. Maybe we would go for a walk, read a book and then go to bed early for a change. Quality of life is what really matters.
Finally, I want mention I saw this great story on the wall of Jimmy John’s restaurant. It talks about how we can have everything we want right now if we just wanted less material things and focused on the pleasures of life instead. Enjoy.
How Much is Enough?
The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time?
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.” The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?” To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said that’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”