Human Being or Human Having

Why do we own what we own?

Aside from minimalists, nomads, or tiny space dwellers, how many of us have the time to ask ourselves this, to sort through what we store in our closets, attics, and storage sheds? Our boxes and bags of extra things remain untouched until we are forced to do something about them. Why bother if it’s not going anywhere…

For the past 5 or 6 years, the longest I’ve lived in one place was a full year. And I’m about to move again at the end of this month. I’ve gotten slightly more comfortable with organizing and packing my stuff into boxes and bags to reorder in a new space. The move I’m preparing for right now is from a 2 bedroom apartment to a cabin the size of my bedroom now.

I can either buy a storage locker for the extra stuff that won’t fit into this tiny place, or just go nuts with the downsizing. And I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that some of these boxes I’ve been carrying around with me are just STUFF. Unnecessary Crap. I tend to not throw away anything useful, but this can lead to hoarding pretty fast if you don’t prioritize what you’re holding onto.

For example:

Yesterday I actually sat down and organized my bin of writing utensils, tested the ones with ink. I sorted the pencils into mechanical, colored, un-sharpened, and regular. Now I am certain that I will never have to buy or “borrow” another pen, pencil, sharpie, or highlighter in my lifetime. It’s a similar scene in my kitchen. I recycle every jar and container I can, and over time this really piles up. None of it even matches anymore.

My solution: Call it clutter. Dare to throw away or donate.

Downsize! Downsize! Downsize!

This isn’t a simple solution by any means, as I’ve held onto my belongings up to this point for a reason. I just need to redefine my reasons. Some things I got as gifts I’ve been keeping out of guilt, but that’s a pretty bad reason to hold onto something (especially if it doesn’t fit or you’d never be caught wearing it). But as far as it goes with what I’ve purchased or gathered myself, it gets a little more complicated. The emotional attachment associated with my stuff is the hardest obstacle to overcome for me. It’s quite a process to get rid of things. But once I decide I don’t want it anymore, I sure love dumping it at the thrift store for someone else to enjoy/deal with. I just need to remember that feeling of unburdening myself of something I don’t even use or like.

On the other end, I look at my consumption in a whole new way. If I want to own less things, I need to cut down on the shit I bring into my house so that it’s not such a struggle letting it go. Plus you save money when you refrain from buying as much junk. I don’t think I could ever be a true minimalist on account of my book loving, but cabin living is going to test my ability to let go.

The title here came from a concept introduced to me in the movie Lucy, something along the lines of: “We humans are more concerned with having than with being”, which is becoming more of a reality in our world than I’m comfortable with. As long as I keep this flaw of humanity in mind, I will attempt to fight this mentality within myself. Sure, it’s great to have nice new things, but what happens internally when you finally let go and stop giving a shit about having so much stuff?

I intend to find out for myself…


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