After stumbling upon an enlightening quote, it made me stop and think about my life and habits.
Linda Stichtenoth is credited with saying, “I spend 2/3 of my life acquiring stuff that doesn’t matter, only so that I can spend my last 1/3 getting rid of it.”
Wealthy people collect works of art, expensive cars or hard-to-find items for their own pleasure. We other lesser mortals collect things that make more sense, or things that give us pleasure.
I contend we also like to acquire things that bring back memories for us or our families, and tend to hold on to things that we remember fondly.
That’s the case of mothers who tend to save everything their children touch, like art projects, school work, drawings and such. I admit falling into that trap, because at the time, we are so proud of them and their progress, and thought it was expected of me as a mother. What we don’t realize at the time is that child will grow up and develop even more talent, meaning more drawings, certificates and such. We can’t possibly keep everything, especially if you have more than one child.
I was guilty of this, but over the years it became overwhelming, and my adult daughters said, “Why are you saving all this stuff?” Actually, they did come up with some items they cherished and wanted to keep.
My point – it brought back pleasant memories for them and they wanted to preserve it. My grandchildren have also benefited from “Gen’s” attic full of treasures. They have taken home old toys, books, and I’m the first one they call when they need anything for Halloween or a dress-up day at school!
So I had a purging last year, and went through my entire upstairs storage rooms. I had lots of old toys, dolls, stuffed animals and keepsake items to move. The girls were told to take what they wanted or let me know what they wanted me to store for them, and the rest was either sold or donated.
Yes, it was hard, but I haven’t regretted much of what I got rid of, but felt relief when the long process was over.
I can say this from personal experience after dissembling entire households of collections and personal keepsakes. Most of us don’t collect stuff because of the possible financial gain, but the emotional attachment. I feel we think this stuff is our legacy, maybe an extension of who we are, but it is not.
Others enjoy the thrill of the chase in securing items to add to their collection, which can be a fun pastime to do with your spouse and family.
So back to the quote about spending so much time acquiring stuff. I can say to the younger people, that in the whole scope of life, stuff is not all that important. What is important is to work hard, and collect memories of your family and loved ones. Sharing your time with them and making memories is what they will remember, not how much stuff you left them!
What is important is to not buy something because someone else has it, and especially don’t purchase something you cannot afford.
Personal stuff is different, and that’s just it. It’s personal. Do what you feel you have to do, but speaking from experience, a few years down the road, most of that stuff is not important, and usually not wanted by anyone.