We exhaust ourselves paying for it, storing it, protecting it. Yet we remain as disconnected from our stuff as we do from each other.
Perhaps there’s some connection.
Acquisition is one measure of keeping score, of staking out a distinct personality. What I collect may give you some insight into who I am or the priorities that I’ve set.
But it can also signal an obsession over barriers and boundaries. Sometimes physical, sometimes psychological. “Don’t touch my stuff” can just as easily be understood to mean “don’t get too close to me.”
There is nothing inherently disordered in the things themselves or in our desire to acquire them. But we need to look beyond our stuff in order to better understand our time and place here.
That so many more of us now have an opportunity to access or maintain financial resources above and beyond that which we actually need to live is somewhat astounding – if not historic. That the disconnect between us grows ever greater is not.
To be clear, I am not here advocating a minimalist approach to life. Nor do I believe that simply cleaning out the storage bins in our attics – or our heads – will make us happier, more connected people.
But a more mindful look beyond our junk, with a recognition that its shelf-life is certainly no greater than our own, may help us to maintain our focus on the things that will surely outlive us all.
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