Every so often I get overwhelmed with the amount of things that surround me. I feel them moving in closer, piling higher, suffocating me, almost burying me alive and I just want to shove it all in black bin bags and throw it all away.
Conversely, I often NEED to buy things, NEED to have them. I feel that I shall cease to exist if I don’t have a certain item be it a button, some fabric, something for the house, that perfect Christmas gift for the children. I just NEED it, regardless of practicality and finances.
I often wonder why? Why I have these feelings of suffocation and desperate need? I guess the need to have things goes back to my childhood and things I experienced while growing up.
I remember stories of how my maternal Grandmother gave all my Mum’s childhood belongings away, without asking, shortly after she married my Dad and the loss she felt as a result. And, even more devastating, of how my parents and siblings had to leave everything behind in Uganda when they had to escape from a military coup in the early seventies.
I also had first hand experience of losing belongings, firstly when our family had to move abroad for my father’s work and we had to be reduce the amount of things we had. And, then when my Dad and I found ourselves fleeing another military coup in Uganda in the mid eighties.
I can remember as clear as if it were this morning rather than nearly thirty years ago. My Dad sat me down and explained that he had heard the army would be opening the airports and that we were going to try and get a flight out. He told me that if we didn’t manage to get a flight, that we would have to make a run for it and try and cross the boarder into Kenya. He said to pack a small bag, with only essentials. So, of all my belongings, what did I take? The necessities like a pair of knickers and toothbrush, Ted (my teddy!) and my camera. It may seem odd to take a camera but I wasn’t sure if I would see my Mum and siblings again, so to ensure I would have something to hold onto, I took photos of all the family portraits in the house.
These experiences explain my fear of losing my belongings and, I think, my need to surround myself with things in order to feel safe and secure. However, I am confused as to why, despite my eleven year old self realising that things didn’t matter and that it is people who matter, why my adult self can’t seem to let the things go.
A life long, family friend decided a couple of years ago to try and reduce his belongings to 100 things. I watched on with admiration as he sold or gave away his belongings and felt inspired by his feelings of freedom as he did so. He did not get down to 100 items (questions like is a pair of socks one or two items did cause some difficulties) but I think the process helped to ease his situation. He tells me that he feels the process began as a reaction to his Mother’s death and the realisation that ‘stuff’ has little importance.
Again, I find myself back at the same conclusion as my eleven year old self – it’s people not things that matter. I also find myself back at the beginning of this post and considering packing all my stuff in bin bags and getting rid of them but I know that once I start the culling process, I will find myself reliving past memories that are attached to certain items and being unable to let go.
So, the point of this post? I have no idea other than I wanted to voice my confused feelings in the hope that I would come to some sensible conclusion or plan of action. I have not.