Materialism and Loss

Stuff is just stuff.”

That’s what I tell myself as I wipe the dust off of my favorite candle votive and place a price tag on it.  I am sorting through my modest belongings, evaluating the worth of each item in dollars, and listing it for sale.  I don’t have much that anyone would want, and even less that anyone would pay for.

I wind the key on a music box.  This music box is not particularly beautiful.  It skips notes when it plays.  It’s a beat-up old piece of junk, really.  It was my grandmother’s.  I don’t even have a particular memory to associate this music box with my grandmother.  At some point, someone must have told me it belonged to her.  For all I know, I am mistaken, and it wasn’t hers at all.  This music box does not mean anything to me.  Not really.  Yet I have carried it with me my entire adult life because I believe it belonged to my grandmother.

Stuff is just stuff.

I have a lot of stuff.  I have piles of stuff, stuff filling every shelf, and boxes full of stuff.  I have had some of this stuff for years.  I can’t keep any of this stuff.  I am packing it up, selling it off, and giving it away.  I have lost my business.  I have lost my house.  I am losing all of my stuff.

I have several cases of ceramic tiles.  I wanted to remodel my bathroom, but now the bathroom is not mine.  The house is not mine.  I have torn up someone else’s kitchen.  I have painted someone else’s walls.  People remodel their houses for other people all the time.  They worry about kitchen trends and resale value, and they make their houses to suit others.  I remodeled my kitchen for myself, and now it belongs to someone else.

I think about the big-box home improvement store where I bought the tiles.  The term "home improvement" is a lie.  The entire industry exists to sell dissatisfaction.  They build warehouses and stock them with trendy fixtures and flooring.  After we buy that, they fill the warehouses with new trendy fixtures and flooring.  It is futile.  We will never improve our homes by constantly improving our houses.

Stuff is just stuff.

I do not feel sad.  I worry that I should feel sad.  I lost my job.  I lost my house.  I have to sell everything because I have nothing.  Yet this does not make me sad.  These things are just things.  Having things does not make a person happy, and so losing things cannot make a person sad.

The best things in life are not things.  I have nothing, but I still have everything.  I have my wits and my health.  I have my beautiful children, and the love of one very special man.  The objects around me are merely the wreckage of a former life.  I can salvage enough cash from them to start again.  I have not lost anything that matters.

Stuff is just stuff.