Everybody Says . . .

Exactly where are those articles, blogs, speeches, books and manuscripts that encourage us to  fill every empty nook and cranny in our homes, to stack surfaces with papers and shelves with nick-knacks, to save every receipt in case we need it 5 years down the road, to stash clothing that no longer fit in a box in the corner of the closet since you’re going to put that weight back on again, and to bring home every new DVD, CD, gadget, and ‘As Seen on TV’ money, time, or brain saving invention?  (I bet you forgot this was a question. I forgot what I was getting at…)

The more you own the better you’ll feel, the higher the stacks the deeper your joy, the more storage containers you fill with the things you’ll need in the future, the less Insurance you’ll need to buy.

And Now Reality….

One of my Mom’s relatives used to save the slivers and chips of soap that were so tiny they shot out of your hands as you tried to squeeze out the last lather possible.  She put them in a box and every once in a while, when she remembered, she’d take a handful out, wet them and squeeze them into multi-colored meteor shapes, as Guest Soap!

I like frugality to a point, but the problem was the boxes sat around in closets and apparently copulated, because over the months more boxes appeared, all waiting their turn to shine as soap sculptures.

Another lady in our village saved every piece of clothing that got stained, ripped, outgrown or accidentally bleached.  She made pot-holders for every friend she had.  Sweet, but even at 5 -7 pot-holders a week, the stack of clothes kept growing. One side of her closet looked like shelving at the Goodwill Store.

I, yes, me… the person asking you these annoying questions … have at least two perpetual stacks of paper on a counter near the kitchen that are 1) Things I mean to do or buy very soon, and 2) Information that will be very relevant soon and 3) I need to file this somewhere since it is sure to come in handy.  They don’t grow above a foot deep, but they never shrink. Curious.

My sweet boyfriend loves bringing me tiny figurines, or beautiful glass objects to display, or earrings or limited edition DVD sets.  His gesture is an expression of love. I appreciate his amazing thoughtfulness, not having experienced such a giving heart in the past.

But I have been repeating the following Mantra for a year now.. “I don’t want any ‘thing‘, if any one wants to give me a gift, then a certificate to Whole Foods, Trader Joe or to one of the 2 Organic restaurants I can actually eat at, is lovely.”  But people want to give you ‘stuff’.

We’ve been conditioned by the media, that we are not showing our appreciation for someone if we don’t BUY them something.  Hogwash, I say!  Flowers, a home-made treat, movie tickets, or a night on the town are just as meaningful, if not more so.

My daughter, (26) who is very artistic and creative, has made most of the gifts she’s given over the past 4 years… like tea blends, natural creams and oils.  I love them.  My son (16 going on 21) is extremely gifted as both an artist and a sculptor.  He has made me clay figures that are amazing, and a Birthday card so full of love I will cherish it till the end of time.

So back to the point…

Hands up if you’ve been bombarded by advice to surround and eventually bury yourself with ‘stuff’… namely ‘junk’. The Media seems to do that.  They act like they don’t care what we do with all the stuff.  Hmm..

Let me ask you this; “Will you wither away to nothing without all those ‘things’?  Will your eyes twitch, your limbs go soggy and your brain melt into butter and broth? Will you be fired from work for being primitive and behind the times, shunned by your friends who think you must not make enough money, or turned down for Credit since you don’t consume enough?”   Umm, maybe… 🙂

There’s a lot to be said for ‘space’ and ‘simplicity’.  Mystics believe that the state of our immediate environment reflects the state of our mind.  Frightening thought, yes? The more we accumulate, the more we’re ruled by our ‘stuff’.  The attachments bind us to matter, to the most transient aspect of life.

Ask yourself why you are buying a certain item, or why you are hanging on to something that you never use or see.

The Quakers have a leg up on 99% of us.  How wonderful to walk into a room simply furnished, with full natural light, and clean surfaces except for one of two items that celebrate a memory or evoke a feeling of peace.

The great Sufi master Inayat Khan said, In the East you will find fakirs who …possess nothing. They are wandering mendicants who own nothing. And there are others who live in palaces in great opulence but are completely detached from the wealth, ready to release it at any moment.

They are playing a role in the world. That is the essence of what is meant by not possessing and not being possessed. Possessing means grasping, being addicted, being unable to part from something.

So one finds that the less one possesses, psychically possesses, the less one is possessed. Because all the things of life, as one collects them, just weigh one down.

When I left Lebanon and my home and my ‘stuff’, I didn’t know I would not return for 25 years. Most all the beautiful furniture Dad had imported, Italian sculptures, china and silverware, collected books and even carpet were stolen by the ‘visiting army’ from a neighboring country. Our house sustained damage, and what contents were left, were moldy and deteriorating by the time I saw them again. . .I felt God decided we should ‘let go’, since we were all living abroad.

What few things I brought with me in 1976, for my supposed short visit to family here, I lost in a Hurricane when I was in college in Houston, just three years later. Another call to ‘let go’ of the past. I was starting a new life in the West, and the attachments to my old life had to be severed.

It’s often that we can’t move forward unless we leave the past behind. This can be literal, as it was in my case… not once, but twice in my life.

It’s not just a ‘concept’ that the less you own the freer you’ll feel.  It’s a concrete reality (if concrete is real…). The more you give away, the lighter your being, and the happier you’ll feel.  There is a reason one can honestly he/she has heard such advice from tens if not hundreds of sources.

One of the suggestions my life mentor and teacher used to make to those who were beginning the journey of healing from a life-transforming illness, was to get rid of old and unnecessary things, and to perhaps repaint one’s room or house in bright, fresh colors.

Our eyes and our mind play a huge role in our overall health. The more pleasant our environment, the happier our being, the more positive our outlook, which contributes to the power to heal.

Pledge to fill a box or two in the next 24 hours, and donate them to families who really do ‘need’ them. Lighten your load, lighten your world. I’m working to do just that.

~ In Light. 

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6 thoughts on “Everybody Says . . .

  1. I’ve realized that I get along much better when I’ve gotten rid of my “lists.” I do keep a notebook for projects and ideas that I’d like to remember, but I make sure that it’s not with a feeling of “I need to get to this” so that my list hangs over my shoulder. Rather, I can leisurely flip through mountains of fantastic ideas and simply smile, or, if the time is right, start in on one.

    Getting rid of “to do’s” has also helped me a lot in actually GETTING THINGS DONE. Without lists laying around, I have to take care of the important things or else they’re lost forever.

    Moving is especially helpful for getting rid of things. Every time I move I downsize by at least 20%….and guess what? I still have tons of stuff! I do end up feeling better when my “things” are carefully chosen and my space well curated.

    Thanks so much for your post! Space is an amazing source of relaxation and our “stuff” definitely needs some conscious thought put into it to make ourselves feel better.

  2. You’re most welcome. I agree about the lists…mine keep drifting from one room to another, always beckoning, often put off. A notebook is a terrific solution! Love your blog by the way!
    Cheers!
    ~ Hoda

  3. Something about this rings so true! I currently have a whole room full of ‘things’ which haven’t been used or looked at since we first moved in to this house. We keep intending to give them to charity, but never seem to get around to it. I’m going to work on that in the coming weeks.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. a while ago, before cancer, a dear friend shared with me the following: ” don’t get attached to any material possession or even people. these are all man-made concepts that merely feed our ego and the need to define ourselves by what we own”.

    1. Yep. I’ve been a student of Sufism for 25 years, and have learned to be detached from most ‘things’ and most ‘roles’… but there is always a nagging tug here and there. 🙂

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