For so many people, clutter simply isn’t a problem.
The problem isn’t of having too much, or being overwhelmed by excess, or feeling weighed down by their possessions.
The problem is in not having enough.
For those who make their homes in the slums of Delhi or the refugee camps in Darfur or the homeless shelters in every major city in the world, the problem is not, “I have too much stuff.” The problem is,
- “My children need shoes.”
- “I don’t know what we will eat.”
- “We have nowhere to sleep.”
- “There isn’t enough.”
This blog has never been a venue for self-righteous posturing, and I’m not going to start today. We know we are privileged. In the way that food in our belly, a roof over our head and access to modern technology is privileged.
But there are billions who have no such luxury. We are aware of this, and it’s my hope that as we – both me and you – continue to simplify our lives, we’ll be able to shift some of our privilege over to those who need it most. (In the way of financial aid and donations, volunteer work, clothing, micro-loans and decreased demand for cheap, disposable goods and unethical labour.)
But the elephant in this uncluttered room is staring at me.
The truth is, for someone who is so enthusiastic about living a simpler life with less stuff, I really do talk about it a lot.
Decluttering, donating, sorting, recycling. These activities all focus my attention on stuff, and while it has become less of a focus as we have simplified more and more, it’s still there.
Yes, it’s important to pare back your belongings. And there are so many good reasons for doing so. But stuff isn’t important. Not really. And it doesn’t deserve our full attention.
We are so lucky, so privileged, so fortunate, that to spend all that time focused on stuff is a waste. Instead, why not embrace the vital, beating parts of life? The breathing, the awe-inspiring and the quietly magnificent.
- The jokes with friends.
- The sun on our cheeks.
- The unexpected view from a mountainside.
- The heartswell of watching our kids learning and exploring.
- The cocoon of an engrossing book.
- The hot breath being pushed from our lungs.
It stings to admit we are privileged when we’re programmed to believe we deserve more, don’t you think?