Saturday, November 24, 2001

Stuff. Stuff is the bane of my existence. It weighs on me, weighs on my thoughts. It tethers me down, binds me to the earth. It seduces me with ideas of "need" and "mine," but they turn out to be a facade of fictions covering a barred cell. There is no need, there is only want. There is no mine, there is only have. Need and mine are the hypothetical permanent counterparts to the temporal concepts of want and have. If anything could last forever, then there would be a place for these mischievous scoundrels. But an object is not forever. A lifetime is not forever. An emotion is not forever. So how can I need a thing? I am not even the same I that I was when I acquired it. It is not mine, it is his; he needed it, but I do not.

James and I share a storage space. Each time I prepare for another trip, I reduce the amount of my stored stuff by about half. Each time, it's difficult to imagine getting rid of anything else. But when the next time comes around, I always manage.

Not that it's fun or easy. To the contrary, to be sure -- it's probably what I dread most about coming home. It's shocking. I've lived without all of this stuff for a year or two, not even thinking about it. But when I finally set eyes on it, all the feelings rush back. Need, want, mine. These things define me. Rather, they define who I used to be. They're nostalgic, they make fresh so many memories and experiences that have withered in the disused attic of my mind. But for the same reason, they're stagnant -- these things are death. Because as long as I'm holding onto the past, I don't allow myself to grow, to be fully in the present.

In the present moment I need nothing. The present moment is all that exists.

Once, when I was having a particularly difficult time getting rid of a lot of sentimental stuff, I remembered some advice someone had once given me -- I took photos of every item. The theory was that the photos would trigger the same memories, but take less room. I never looked at the pictures, but it certainly made it a lot easier to let go of the stuff.

Now, once again I've gone through everything and streamlined my belongings. Nearly everything I own fits into a ten foot vertical column, four feet wide and two feet deep.

Do I need it all? No, nothing. I just want it.