I grew up in a dichotomous environment. My mother loved stuff. She spent thousands and thousands of dollars on innovative gadgets, most of which she never learned how to use, most of which we had to dispose of when she moved from the big house. The best of these was a knitting machine, an elaborate and expensive device that took hours to set up, but promised huge savings by allowing the owner to quickly knit three-foot wide swaths of wool and cotton yarn.
Mom never learned how to use the device, but I did, discovering that if one stitch failed to catch, the piece would unravel, and that the knitting machine wasn't a replacement for knitting, you still had to hand knit the pieces together. but the thrill of having a knitting machine was worth it to Mom.
My dad wasn't into stuff. He grew up in an agrarian community where things were constantly being salvaged and reused. I don't remember my dad ever buying anything that didn't have an immediate and vital purpose. How those two survived together for so long is one of the miracles of nature. Their secret was, from my understanding, they didn't talk much.
I'm like my dad. I rarely buy anything that isn't a response to an immediate need. I live so cheaply that my dad once told me that the world economy would fall apart if everybody lived as I do, so frugally. But I'm not frugal. I just don't like being controlled by stuff and there is truth in the saying that what you own owns you.
My brother and sister are hybrids. They aren't as completely idiotic as my mom, buying all kinds of labor-saving devices that end up requiring labor disposing of them unopened in the original packaging, but they have areas where they store things that might come in useful if Armageddon happens. Don't we all?
I was in the business of helping people downsize for a while and I was shocked at the amount of stuff people have, stuff they don't even remember having. I imagine that they're like Mom, getting pleasure out of the idea of a thing, even if they never use it. Purchasing something can be more valuable to a person than using it, like a gun. Psychologists call this psychic value, like a purchasing placebo effect.
So much of the stuff we buy appears to be for that purpose, to make us feel better, not live better. Or do you believe that feeling better is living better? What did Mom feel when all of her idle purchases were being tossed? The impression I got was that she felt like an idiot and she made it known that she would have preferred that these things be given a home where they would be useful. I didn't have the heart to ask her why she hadn't thought of that before buying them.
I know a kid who takes medication just for the purpose of making him feel better. A doctor gave him a prescription. I thought it would be better and cheaper for all involved if he was just able to grow some pot and smoke a joint when he felt down, but the government doesn't agree. They only want pharmaceutical companies to be in that business of stuffing people full of chemicals. Normal folk who want to use natural remedies need not apply. That's democracy at work, stuffing our medicine cabinets full of crap we don't need, but might make us feel better, and if it doesn't, here's another pill, and another, and another.
See, the American government works to keep the stuff flowing for the enrichment of their benefactors.
Stuff it, I say. To all of it, I say stuff it. Thanks Dad.