Buddha, Jesus, and George Carlin Walk Into a Bar

(I'm sorry to say I don't actually have a joke to go with that opening; maybe I'll work on a punchline and get back to you) (or maybe Steve Martin will write a play and save me the trouble)

'Tis the season to fret about stuff. It's actually been on my mind a lot lately, as we try to turn our house into more of a space we actually love, a home that is functional and fun. The problem is that no matter how much surface area is available, it gets covered with clutter. Adding more space just invites more piles. We need containment, carefully planned out containment.

But: what I really need is a willingess to let go. Somehow I have developed a sort of modern version of Depression-era stockpiling. Drawers full of old rubber bands and matchboxes with one match and too many glass jars because they might come in handy some day! Clothes I've had since high school but haven't worn since college but still like! Mountains of used padded envelopes in case I need to send lots of fragile things in the mail! Candy canes from three years ago that are finally in season again!

It's the treehugging solar-powered locavore in me: I just can't throw things away. I can reuse and recycle with the best of them, but I hate waste. I still get sad when we let the spinach go bad, but at least it gets composted. I'm getting better about giving things away for someone else to use, but that's where I run into my attachment issues. Having moved a lot and culled a lot, I hit a wall at some point and just want to keep the stuff I still have. Because, you know, I like it. Or I liked it at some point. Or it has meaning, it was a gift, it's an emotional connection to a person, place, or time. I blame Black Friday, instead of Black Tuesday.

But it's time to let it go. Embrace Craigslist, Freecycle, Goodwill. As I'm bombarded with commands to buy, to do it for Jesus (Happy Birthday!), I'm going to listen to the Buddha instead. Or maybe George Carlin, with a twist: "How come your shit is stuff and everybody else's stuff is shit?" Or hell, even the bumper sticker on my car: "The best things in life aren't things."

It's a little sad to admit that when I threw away (recycled!) the wrapping paper from xmas presents yesterday, I felt a small thrill. It was like I was doing something daring and not-quite-kosher. It was wrong, but oh-so-right. Now if only I can bring myself to do the same with the bags full of old wrapping paper in the attic... (but what if there's a birthday, and I need to wrap something?!)

New Year's Resolution: get rid of at least one thing every day. And then stop thinking about it!