"The things you own end up owning you" - From Fight Club
A rail against capitalism and for always staring at a phone screen if ever there was one, but I feel it goes deeper than that. Cars, Homes and everything in them own us more than we own them. Time and money, acquired from trading time at work, go into keeping them clean and in good condition...
I hate everything I have but am too afraid to get rid of it all. I used to think I was setting up a home-base from where I could launch into any endeavor I wanted. No matter what I did I'd always have a home to come back to, but something is off; it's not my home but I am the home's owner.
Anyone able to relate? or counter?
When I read "Walden" by Henry Thoreau, and he said basically the same thing, it made a big impact on me. I had just lost almost everything I owned in a divorce. It was a tough time, but it wasn't the things I'd lost that made it tough, it was the loss of the life I'd imagined I would have as I got older. The loss of possessions was kind of like a freedom, and I swore I would never accumulate stuff like that again. Even though I have accumulated stuff, even though I swore I wouldn't, I see it in a different way. I had a motorcycle for years, that Karen and I would take trips on. It was an expensive bike. Once we had grandchildren, I noticed we were entertaining grand kids a lot, and not riding. Most people I know would have kept the bike, but the minute I saw I wasn't riding it, I sold it. I try to do that with everything.
Fight Club was a satire of nihilism and anti-capitalism. Although the movie ends early, the story actually ends with the narrator trapped in the remnants of the possession-less life he tried to create, stalked by Tyler Durden and the people that still remember him and his ideals.
Whilst this doesn't directly help you, it's worth remembering that the alternatives to our collective situation are not necessarily improvements.
I get what you are saying. I also did take in the comments of it being a first world problem. What can really be mentally imprisoning, and cast a dark cloud over one's serenity, is getting yourself in so much debt that there is no way out of it. My ex was a spend thrift, and I remember day after day thinking of the debt we acquired and the money we owed. I would think about it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Bankruptcy was a relief. We divorced soon after that. Other than my car, I have sworn off using credit for anything. I just live in a cheap apartment now and do not buy anything unless I can pay cash. I sleep better at night.
Some things are useful and some things that are useful require maintenance. I would not suggest getting rid of everything you own, however, you might consider thinking about what you actually need as opposed to what you want. For example, I might want a Ferrari but I do not need one.
Any lifestyle will require maintenance; it is simply a matter of personal choices. I have known people who worked very long hours every day to maintain a lifestyle that did not appear to bring them much happiness. Whenever they had any free time they were usually too exhausted to enjoy it.
If you feel that you are at some kind of crossroad in your life you might want to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig whom many regard as an outstanding writer and philosopher.
I think there is truth to that. The more things you have, the more they weigh you down, the less free you are. You have to have a place to store all your things, and wherever you store them, it costs money, so you have to work more hours. It's kind of a vicious cycle...particularly if you are trying to keep up with the Jones.
The same principal is not limited to materalism. Theism happens to be an excellent example of and idea owning a person as they become a emotive and cognative slave to it. Do they really own the idea of theism? Do they control it or is it like a drug that controls them?
It's not bad to put yourself into something. I think the problem might be that you're maintaining a home not your home. I don't pretend to know your situation but my short time in the army was largely about maintaining our barracks the "right" way. I only have an apartment now but I set up my furniture the way I like it, I'm investing some time and energy into an aquaponics system, have my art hung up in the few places I like them, and my kitchen is small but, to me, looks elegant enough for a 5 star chef. I see a reflection of me in my apartment so it feels closer to my home. I didn't start out making it mine I just put things here in there until I started to find where the me part goes. Maybe try a project to find your me?
I have "endeavors" in my home too. My wife and I enjoy thrift store shopping. I rescue bicycles like some people rescue lost dogs. I spent about a thousand dollars over 8 years, and only succeeded selling 7 of them. About 50 of the bikes were donated to charities for tax purposes. We both have accumulated "collectibles"...for the day that we will need to sell them for fun-and-profit. The collectibles are small, and take up little space. The bicycles had taken over the garage. The difficulty with aquiring stuff is spending time and energy to get rid of them...even for fun and profit.
Hmmm.... it's ok for me to be owned and to own. Tranquility of knowing I get paid for doing this or whatever I want to do. It's all paid for. I get to go here and there and its all paid for. Out of all the stupid shit i have done. I made sure i had a job with a pension. Ive always learned other trades to be eligible to be hired. Another words ive made it a point to be taken care of when I retire. I am retired now and I'm paid now to do nothing.
Perhaps you should join or consider starting a library of things? Borrow things and use them. Put them back when you are not using them so other people can enjoy them? I don't think it is necessary to own things, just to have control of items when you need them could be enough.
I have recently thought that if every American were to immediately clean out the excess "stuff" from their houses, attics and garages, and if every other America accepted and re-used it, then almost every store in America except for groceries would be out of business within 6 months.
Maybe that's why we are seeing so many re-sale shops ? We're already doing that, but at a slower pace?
I like this idea there is a similar one about humans and the cultivation of crops. We believe we are masters of these plant species and we use them for our needs. It seems it's the other way around we spend countless hours taking care of these plants, watering them and keeping pest from them just so they can reproduce and fruit so who is really using who?
We are between apartments. In November 2016 we packed the previous one into 220 boxes (excluding furniture), took around 10 boxes with us to our temporary home, and put the remainder in storage. We won't move into the new one till this April or May, after an often-delayed renovation.
We miss our books, we miss our clothes, we miss our files, we miss our cooking stuff! People often say, "Aren't you discovering how much lighter your lives are now?" Yeah. We miss our shit.
Recently had a similar discussion with another member about this topic.
I've lost everything I've owned more than once. that's forced me to learn that it's just "stuff".
Having a home is important to me now. When I was younger, I moved a lot so it wasn't
as important as it is now. I learned to travel light. However, now when I'm ready to sleep, I want MY bed. When I get up, I want to turn on MY coffeemaker, and drink from my own mug. I live a fairly minimalist lifestyle, compared to most, I think. I have 'crap', but it's my 'crap'. I tend to purge fairly frequently.
If I haven't touched it in six months, I tend to either donate it or pitch it. I don't own a car anymore, because I can no longer drive. I think of all the things I've had to get rid of, that's the one thing I miss most. Probably because I miss the freedom of being able to just get in and go. If you're hating everything you own, maybe it's time to do a purge. Start small. See what you can live without, and go from there. It gets much easier the more often you do it. If something is inhibiting your ability to feel "free", perhaps examining it's relative importance is in order?
It's a constant war to Just Say No! to more stuff. One of my battles is dragging out stuff no longer wanted, necessary or in the way. I Try to give it away before I throw it out. As much shopping as possible is now done at re-sale shops. Years ago I told my kids...No More presents! We are going to start doing things instead! About a 50/50 success rate rate, but the good 50 part of it is fantastic!
When my ex moved out, I eliminated 5 or 6 vacuum cleaners. She spent a lot of her time organizing....like monthly re-organizing the house. It is a sickness. I threw out many many plastic tubs and lids. Car seats from when the kids were babies.
She liked to paint. The exterior doors were re-painted at least once a year. Most rooms every other year. So I suggested....."Buy cheap paint since you're gonna re-paint anyway" ( I am mean, I was told).
Definitely a sickness. Stay on top of it Dreadly.... Hoarders weren't born that way.
And yes, I have too many guitars and amps......i can only play one at a time.........
And yes, my pole barn has too much junk.
But still my favorite place in the whole world is my home. I'll always have "stuff"......I just refuse to build an addition
I don't feel like I've ever been on the materialistic bandwagon. I passed on a job at 3 times the salary in order to accept a postdoc when I got out of Grad school even though we were a family of five. By the time the kids were out of college we could afford dinner out occasionally.
Still after retiring, I look around my computer room and see it filled with stuff. The garage is the same way and except for the clutter I have no desire to clean it up.
That said I think I could walk away from it all at any time.
Another thought occurred to me: We are also owned, paradoxically, by the devils we fight, e.g., religion, intellectual sloth, arrogance and the myth of the individual. To name a few too many. Perhaps best left to another post.
There are many things to rail against in life, if one wishes to do so. I am discovering that the more I go through, in terms of gain and loss, both in the material sense, and relationship-wise, the less I need. Perhaps that is "giving up", admitting defeat, however you want to characterize it; but, I don't feel defeated, I honestly feel liberated ala, "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose," kind of freedom. My heaviest obligation now is my two dogs, whom I could no more abandon than step in front of a freight train. At this stage of my life (68 yrs old), I don't own a lot of property, most of it lost in the process of relationship termination in one form or another. However, I have quite a decent retirement income, and don't really worry about where my next $$ is coming from, so that's quite a relief.
I think that once you acquire the notion that you do not want to be burdened by material possessions, a way will open up for you. It may not be the way you had in mind, but that's often how life is, right? But, I realize, also that participation and immersion in the capitalist system got me to this point in my life, where I have the choices I have now. So, I will not curse "the system." But, neither will I encourage acquisitiveness. Having innumerable possessions obviously does not bring lasting happiness.
Typically, I make 5-year plans. Sometimes the plan changes, and may shorten or lengthen a bit, and sometimes that's due to unforseen circumstances. My current aim is to investigate other countries to reside in. I can live well enough here, in the USA, but I have become somewhat discouraged by the direction we're going here, politically, and socially. In another country, I could live at a higher level, and share what I do have more comfortably, and without the aggravation of those things that grate on me here. Now, before the criticism and denigration begins, if you have lived in another part of the world for an extensive period, I welcome your respectful comments on the subject. If you have not lived elsewhere, don't bother commenting, your opinion means nothing to me. Yes, I realize nowhere is problem free, and yes, I get that it looks like "running away" from problems, but, again, I'm 68 not 38, and have an inalienable right to do as I please, as long as I don't encroach on the rights of others.
Oh ya. Man have you ever said a mouth full! I especially like, "I am the home's owner". All of our stuff owns us more than we own them. You are a sage my young friend. We all become slaves to the great ecopolitico-machine. I didn't realize this until about my early sixties, and that was not very long ago. If I was single I would get rid of all but the essentials and live in an RV, and live in 2 or 3 long term RV parks a year, and enjoy life. I could get rid of maintaining things by 75%. Simplify, and enjoy life more.
We live in a 'first world country', and most would say we're lucky to do so. You really do have options. You're welcome to sell everything you have and go live the life of a homeless person. I understand there's a growing number of people moving to the remote forests and building a little make shift shack and living off what they can get their hands on.. I'm talking real deal hunting and gathering lifestyles. Is that so unappealing? If not, then go ahead... Nobody is stopping you. I don't think it's fair to ''rail against'' Capitalism, it's just a system you've decided you don't prefer.. It may not be for you, but others (and we're talking a shit load of others) do. Having the opportunity to work toward a goal of bettering your life and the lives of your family (and yes I understand, what you consider ''bettering your life'' may be different than others) is something people are dying to come to this country for. They sneak across our borders illegally on a daily basis hoping they're not caught, just to have a chance at experiencing this thing called Capitalism. I'm often amazed at the whole human mental phenomenon of wanting the things you don't have, no matter what the situation.. In your case you live in arguably the greatest country there is, have a job, a life, a place to live, I'm guessing a car, perhaps a hobby involving ownership of stuff like musical instruments or perhaps a bicycle, or a kayak, or what ever, and you're not happy. Others that live in countries where they could never even dream of such a life would literally give up body parts for the opportunity to have it. I'm guessing you've not spent any time in countries where having stuff like that is just a pipe dream. I'm not saying material possessions like this is what EVERYONE should strive for, perhaps it's just not for you... No need to knock it. If you don't want that life, by all means, give all your stuff away. Go live the minimalist life. Buy a one way ticket to a third world country where everyone lives that way, so you won't feel alone perhaps.. The options are many, just go do it. What's stopping you? Right. I hope you figure out what you want and you go make it happen.. It's one of the great things about the rights all who are lucky enough to be born in this country have, what this country was built on, the most important, to me anyway, is the right to the pursuit of happiness.. I hope you figure out what would make you happy, and you make it happen.. I'm guessing you're probably a really nice person, and deserve it.. Best of luck to you..
But for those who DO enjoy simplifying/decluttering (for which I'm not the best advocate, per the below) and even from benefiting from the savings, I recommend the Frugalwoods blog and book, [frugalwoods.com] and [amazon.com]
(Disclaimer: I worked on the book; it's more of a memoir than a how-to.)
And for those comfortable with 12-step modality -- though I complained about it in the discussion [agnostic.com] -- there's Clutterers Anonymous as an at least distant, yet internationally accessible, resource (here in NYC there have been barely any meetings for it):