Joy Held's Writer Wellness

"Be well, write well."

Thursday Thought: Stuff

on March 17, 2011

 

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

I’m convinced we hold onto our Stuff because in some awkward way it validates us. In a world crammed with people and their Stuff, our Stuff gives us proof that we exist. If we have Stuff and proof of our existence, we can claim some sort of history, some kind of evidence that we matter now, did then, and will matter in the future. Even if we aren’t physically here (in the future.) Our stuff will be proof that we were here.

Stuff is also a symbol. Some people and weird, scary television shows about people unwilling to let go of their Stuff, say that the Stuff is a status symbol, a message to others that we have succeeded on terms supposedly acceptable to the general populace. “I have Stuff. Therefor, I am.” Am what? My sister has a coffee mug in her sewing room that says, “She who dies with the most fabic wins.” The reality TV shows about people with piles and piles and room after room of Stuff are popular because deep in our bellies we all know it’s a symbol of greed. The contestants in life who race to have the most Stuff are afraid they will be forgotten. It’s a natural sensation. We’re afraid that after we die, no one will remember us except they will have our Stuff to clean up for us so they’ll never forget us. Huh?

I visited the home of an elderly woman once who had been retired from the U.S. Postal Service. She spent the next fifteen years shopping yard sales. You could not walk through any room in the house. Even the bathroom was stacked with things so you had to walk on piles of sheets and towels to get to the throne. After she died, it took her daughter eleven years to sort and sell just the Stuff. The house sold in a matter of months once people could see the ceilings.

As the executrix of my father’s estate, it’s my job to simplify his belongings and liquidate the property and convert everything into cash for the heirs. I love my Dad, but he didn’t do the best job organizing his Stuff before he passed away and I’m still wading through paperwork and details and bureaucratic b.s. almost four years after his death. Believe me, once you have to do all this work after someone has passed away, you will organize and simplify your own life and paperwork in a hurry…unless you want to leave a nightmare behind. That isn’t how I want to be remembered. To be fair, my poor father died suddenly and the work to “clean house” and organize his estate was in progress at the time of his death, but it wasn’t complete. The work is amazingly complicated and depressing. I am doing everything possible NOT to leave my children the same Stuff.

It seems pretty simple to say, “Get rid of it,” but reality is a bit more of a hard bite when it comes to choosing what to through out. I have the same problem everyone else has with getting rid of Stuff, but I’m working on it. Got three boxes in the van for Goodwill right now. I driven there twice and haven’t dropped it off yet. I’ll do it. I’ll do it. Will you remember me without my Stuff as a reminder?

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous. 

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer 

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook 

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb 

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

Be well, write well.

 

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2 responses to “Thursday Thought: Stuff

  1. G.H. Edwards says:

    Last year, my father-in-law passed away and my husband and I had to go through his ‘stuff’. There is profound truth to your statement, “We’re afraid that after we die, no one will remember us except they will have our Stuff to clean up for us so they’ll never forget us.” The experience of going through his ‘stuff’ was heart-wrenching and once I was able to see through the upheaval of my emotions, I wrote about it in an essay entitled “One and a Half Tons of Life.” That equates to what we were forced to throw away from his house. From other stories I hear, we got off light. Ever since, my husband and I have been lightening our own loads. We do not have children to clean up our ‘stuff’ after we are gone. We are doing it now. Garage sales, freecycle, Goodwill. Someone else needs my stuff more than I do.

    • writerwellness says:

      Delighted you have dropped by for a visit. Your comments are true and worthy toward this discussion. Personally, I have discovered that my community doesn’t support the giant haul-it-all-away-bag advertised on television for individuals who want to just throw it all out. Maybe that’s a good thing. I should be more energetic and share what is worth the effort and trash only what can’t be reused or recycled to keep my contributions to the landfill reasonable. Luck with your own efforts.

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