The dilemma of stuff – packing to go

 

So much to do and so little time.

Really?!  Despite having our count down calendar drawn up on the wall since buying our tickets, the last couple of weeks crept up on us and caught us unprepared.

Kian and I worked right to the end, and the kids school broke up for summer 4 days ago. With 2 days to go before departure we were at the nasty point that no one could help us with…grim paperwork, such as my tax return and finances with the kids dad, that could have been done weeks before, hung over me like a bad smell, inevitably to be left for the final dark hours. The caravan needed emptying and squeezing out of the garden gates to become a new home for somebody, and worst of all I had STUFF to deal with, piles of stuff all around me.

In the big pack up I felt a need to methodically sort my stuff. I could have been stricter and made myself shed it all but I didn’t feel the need or wish to be so harsh. I slowly and painstakingly sorted through it, making piles for charity shops, piles for friends, piles for the tip and piles to be boxed up and kept in the garden shed. The year before, moving into the caravan, I had gone through the same process on a bigger scale, sifting through my stuff and trying to secretly give away lots of the kids less loved toys (total failure giving it to the Christmas Fayre – most of it got rescued back!).  My rule has always been if something has a story or special memory attached it is worth saving. I’m happy to admit that sometimes this sentimentality has gone to far, and sometimes I cling to something that just a year later means nothing and I can pass it on, but there was a letting go in that time. Sometimes something bares the test of time and I still treasure it and want it in my life. Though the cottage is rented our attic groans with stuff, mostly forgotten books and toys that will probably never be needed again.

 

Packing belongings and moving house is always stressful but packing this time felt worse; I was under a deadline with little space to sort and felt Kian’s harsh judgement and frustrated eye on me throughout. As I packed and got stressed with the process, an inevitable part of the process in my opinion, I felt his anger towards my stuff grow. I felt frustrated at my own internal battle, knowing having less stuff would free me and help me, but having a deep personal attachment to some things, so that criticism of them meant a personal attack. I respect his conscious choice of lack of possessions, it gives an enviable freedom, but it can, in a harsh light, also seem cold and inhuman. Like when I found him burning the first birthday card I’d ever made him, and he saw no hurt in that, but kept it just to please me. 

Now we’re sat on the train to Heathrow airport, kids occupied with their new books, and an uncomfortable cold exhaustion between Kian and I. The last few days nearly broke us, and I’m tired and grumpy and not feeling the much anticipated excitement and joy of our journey beginning. Expectations can be a bad thing.The hoarding of stuff, the need for stuff, is surely a terrible 20th century curse, and one I have not avoided. I would love to say sincerely that I have no attachment to belongings, I can see what a sense of freedom that would bring, (and yes how much easier it would be to move on each time we change homes) but I am a sentimental old magpie. I have not accumulated much worldy wealth, expensive gadgetry, or hi tech home improvements but I have collections of interesting bits from my world travels, driftwood,  shells and stones, childhood toys, kids paintings, random memory jerkers and other life flotsam.

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Already I am aware I kept too much but I know it’s a slow process of ‘de-couplement’ with stuff and me, and a stubbornness in me kicks in if someone else is telling me to shed and shed. I do want to live with less, but I need to take my time whittling it away. I have gone from a cottage to a caravan, and now with my bags around me, I head to a tent home for 6 months. That is a lot less already for sure. I don’t think I’d be good at doing the dramatic thing and burning it all or giving it all away, perhaps I’ll feel differently one day. For now, I have my stuff stacked high in the garden shed and in the attic and lent out to various good friends. We have no idea when or where we’ll make a home again, and so no idea when I’ll be getting the boxes out again, but when I do I’m sure lots of it will be quite unimportant, and some of it will be like re-finding old friends.  

Already I am aware I kept too much but I know it’s a slow process of ‘de-couplement’ with stuff and me, and a stubbornness in me kicks in if someone else is telling me to shed and shed. I do want to live with less, but I need to take my time whittling it away. I have gone from a cottage to a caravan, and now with my bags around me, I head to a tent home for 6 months. That is a lot less already for sure. I don’t think I’d be good at doing the dramatic thing and burning it all or giving it all away, perhaps I’ll feel differently one day. For now, I have my stuff stacked high in the garden shed and in the attic and lent out to various good friends. We have no idea when or where we’ll make a home again, and so no idea when I’ll be getting the boxes out again, but when I do I’m sure lots of it will be quite unimportant, and some of it will be like re-finding old friends. 

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I look forward to us all having a happy home together, and I hope it won’t be a battle ground of emptiness versus clutter. The best solution would be to have a warm home, more outdoor than in, with less room and need for stuff. Bravely finding ourselves in our hearts, not negating memories but identifying with our real selves and not in our stuff selves.  This is a beginning..but we seem to have a lot of bags to haul to Heathrow. 

2 thoughts on “The dilemma of stuff – packing to go

  1. So lovely reading that Susie and heraing your voice in my head as I went…… we all battle with sentimentality….some of us more than most, I felt terrible recently when i realised how I'd passed it on to Miracle and now she has loads os 'special' things to hoard around with her! one of my favourite qoites on this subject is from Leonard Koren “Wabi-sabi acknowledges that just as it is important to know when to make choices, it is also important to know when not to make choices: to let things be. Even at the most austere level of material existence, we still live in a world of things. Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom from things.” Cant wait to read more. Loads of love to you all xxxx

  2. I think we shouldn't be too hard on our selves re attachment to 'Stuff'. Editing it and not getting too much new stuff is the key!( and ethical stuff) I find after my editing of all my things, I love what I have kept more. And objects of sentiment, things of beauty and nick-hacks of happy memories have all been created by another Human…and that is wonderful…and it keeps us connected! We are creative beings. Much love xxx ( your records are bringing much pleasure!)

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