I have too much stuff. We all have too much stuff. My kids have too much stuff. My friends have too much stuff. America has too much stuff.
I don't know when it started happening -- but shopping and accumulating stuff has become our national pastime. And it is killing us...
If you don't believe me -- just look at the TV Guide. There are reality shows ON SEVERAL CABLE CHANNELS about buying and selling stuff from abandoned storage units.
Storage units?? WHO SAW THAT COMING? According to their "association", storage units are the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry!!
Storage units are like bottled water or disposable diapers. Suddenly, and with very little warning -- they are completely imbedded in the fabric of our lives. THEY ARE UBIQUITOUS. They are everywhere. In my small town of Princeton, the storage unit business used to be a garage/mechanic business and a cornfield. Drive 3 miles to LeClaire -- and the former lumber yard has been converted to storage units. The big bonanza happens three miles down the road in Pleasant Valley, where acres of former onion fields are currently growing a crop of rows and rows of cheap brick storage units.
But -- truthfully -- even worse than the storage unit television shows are the many shows about HOARDERS. THOSE are the unfortunate souls who became obsessed with their stuff, just like all the rest of us -- but they didn't rent a storage unit.
Their homes are jammed with stacks of old magazines, mountains of unusable junk, bugs, vermin and dead cats. They live in these horrible deathtraps, they have no friends and are completely disconnected from their families.
My own life is overwhelmed by stuff. I have boxes in my basement that have not been opened since we moved to Iowa (1977). And, when it comes to my mountain of pithy t-shirts -- Guinness World Book of Records has asked for a count...
Why do I do it? How did it get this bad?
I don't know all the answers -- but I am trying to figure things out -- and here's what I know for sure:
- ACQUIRING stuff is a joyful, addictive behavior.
- OWNING stuff is not nearly as much fun as you thought it would be.
- MAINTAINING stuff is nothing but onerous.
That's my new word. Onerous. Ugh.