ˈstəf:: 1. materials, supplies, or equipment used in various activities
Stuff. Such a simple word, yet so loaded with complexities. Merriam-Webster defines stuff as our personal property. “Don’t touch my stuff” is probably one of the first full sentences we formed using the word “don’t” during our formative years. Whether it be directed towards a sibling, friend, classmate or foe, the point is clear: Don’t. Touch. My. Stuff. We are socially groomed from the time we receive our first meaningful toy that not only is there value in having “stuff”, but it’s worth protecting, too.
I was at a networking event last night and struck up a conversation with a gentleman who had just moved back to the states after living six years in London. It was an easy conversation of big picture values and ideas when the simple phrase was uttered “you have to give up some stuff to have other stuff“. This seemingly innocuous phrase struck a chord within. We delved head-first into the “stuff” conversation. He mentioned how he’d reduced a household of stuff back in the states into two boxes for his new life. And how he didn’t miss his stuff. In fact, he was liberated without his stuff. Jokingly he quipped “I was tired of managing all of my stuff!”, and the truth is theses days he is more self-actualized sans all the stuff.
I absolutely can relate to the liberation of less stuff. But even so, I still struggle with my stuff issues. While I’ve given up some stuff to have other stuff (and occasionally fool myself into feeling a tad bit enlightened), I without a doubt suffer from chronic stuff-itus. And on a daily basis. It’s hard, stuff is everywhere. It’s out there taunting and teasing, subliminally telling you without it, you are somehow not complete and/or less of a person. I actually jones for stuff. I’m reminded of so many scenes in Fight Club when I think about the societal lure trappings of stuff, one of the most fitting quotes being “I flipped through catalogs and wondered: What kind of dining set defines me as a person?”.
Stuff. It’s a funny word and there was much humor in our stuff conversation (it made me laugh out loud more than once), but there were also profound concepts discussed. Life is about choices. And experiences. We all know this, but as Americans living in a stuff-centric society, I think experiences can often get trumped for the quest of bigger and better stuff. At the end of the day, are we going to be glad that we have a household full of cool stuff, or glad that we got out and experienced what the world had to offer?