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The other day I was in the elevator at a major Boston hospital heading to the 16th floor.  The elevator was full of people; visitors carryi...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yes, go ahead. Love your stuff.



As a Hospice nurse, I suppose you think that I would say that stuff does not matter. That you can't take it with you. That materialism isn't worth it.

Well, that is just a load of crap.

We all love our stuff. And we should.

When I say stuff, I don't mean that ratty old couch you hate, or the hand me down curtains. I am talking about the stuff that you buy or collect that makes you uniquely you. The things that you surround yourself with that comfort you and make you smile.

I am in the process of purging now. Getting rid of stuff that either doesn't matter anymore, that is broken, that was an impulse buy or that we have simply outgrown. I hope to either give it away or sell it, hoping that it will become someone else's stuff. We all have way too much stuff. I know. And it can get overwhelming.

However, here are many things that I have carried with me for years and I know that I will continue to carry for years. Not because they are valuable or collectible, but because they are part of me. My important stuff.

Yes, there is a distinction.

Now, some people cling to things that hold special memories. Many times they are in boxes, put away so they do not get damaged. Or put away because they are simply too painful to look at. They are special things, but they made up someone else's life. We keep them as tangible evidence that this person existed, that they mattered to us. That they were special. That we still have a piece of them here with us.

A deceased child's teddy bear. A mother's favorite pillow. A dad's well worn fishing hat.

This is not the stuff I am talking about.

What I am talking about are the festive scarves you love to wear and keep buying. The collection of salt and pepper shakers from flea markets. The magnets from every trip you have ever been on. (hmmm, that one sounds familiar)

You know what I am talking about.

We all do it. And for many, we all feel quite guilty about it at times.

"I know I don't need this. But I cannot help myself."

"I should not waste so much money on this stuff."

Or are told, "Why do you keep buying that crap?"


Crap?

How many times have I said that. (Or been told that, but that is another story for another day)

We all need our little nirvana. It is part of who we are.

So poo on the naysayers, including ourselves. We deserve our stuff.

And no, we cannot take it with us. That is true. But so what. As long as we truly enjoy it and it makes us happy, then what exactly is the problem?

I am not talking about hoarders or people who have issues where they have a shopping addiction. I am talking about the small stuff, the special things.

I am talking about the collection of ornaments that we place on the tree every Christmas, the beautiful vase that we have on our mantel, the art that we enjoy looking at, the books that keep us company when we are lonely. The fragrance that you always buy. How you always have to have the best soap in your guest bathroom. Your favorite bedroom slippers. The cashmere sweaters you wear all the time. The guitar you love to play. The special car you restored. They are a statement about you. They are part of who you are.

Many wise men and women talk about how things aren't important. How materialism is a crime and a shame. How we are a consumer society bent on getting more and more.

I think that may be true.

But it shouldn't make us feel bad about loving our stuff.

There is a line from a movie "The Jerk" that I just love. Steve Martin, as Navin Johnson, has just lost his fortune. His wife, Marie, played by Bernadette Peters says, "I don't care about losing all the money. It's losing all the stuff."

Truer words never spoken.

Many times people say after a fire or a hurricane, we can replace the stuff. We are just glad to be alive.

And I am sure that is true.

But I know that deep down they miss their stuff.

So, anyway, I am still going to love my stuff until the end. And if someone wants to sell it on Ebay when I am gone, that is fine. I hope that they take the money and then buy stuff that they can enjoy, too.

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart...pursue those.” Michael Nolan

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