Monday, April 30, 2007

NPR - Stuff Junk and Trash

This is the year, hopefully, I will sort through all the stuff I've carried around these decades, currently in a rented garage-sized storage area. While doing street photography I notice a lot of street people push carts around with their entire worldly belongings with them, wherever they go, they're there. Me, I have stuff from my childhood, and stuff through my entire life in boxes in the storage area.

I remember in the fall of 1970, my girlfriend, whom I later married, and I moved in together into a small apartment in a suburb of Sacramento, California south of McClellan Air Force base where I was stationed. Everything she and I owned fit into the back of a borrowed early 1950's Chevy half-ton pickup. We looked like total bumpkins with our stuff and pets in the truck. It was funny, and we always laughed about that day.

And ever since then I've accumulated stuff and rented larger storage areas to where about 10 years ago I finally rented a garage in one of those chain storage companies. It was half full when I moved into it, and now it's full. So, my goal this year is to practice triage on it, give it away, recycle it or throw it away. Plan B is keep a few things I've always cherished. My goal is to be completely out of it by the end of the year, but there is some furniture which will have to be sold.

Until I start on that storage area, I've been working the apartment and its small storage area, to get it down to the minimum. The problem is that I'm like everyone who personalizes stuff and gives it more value. But at some point, stuff is just stuff, and something I've been thinking about. Today I was taking the trash out, and I noticed I have no problem taking out the trash, but I have a problem taking out junk.

We love junk. We're not unique, it's almost a universal theme. Just watch people around the world. Very few cultures don't save stuff, and those that don't, usually do when they settle into places of their own. It's been a long evolution and history to get where we have so much stuff. I've thought we literally can produce ourselves into oblivion for the stuff we buy and save, thinking it's worth something, only to give it away. The whole recycle business, especially for clothes, is fascinating if you ever see or read stories on it.

Anyway, back to the point. I was just thinking how we put value on objects others just see as stuff. And so it goes, and I'll keep you posted on the progress of simplifying my life. The goal? To get rid of everything not in my apartment. Doable? Yes. Realistic? Hmmm..., I'll get back to you this fall.

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