What I’ve been thinking about in the area of “stuff” is a column a member of my last year’s class forwarded to me. It concerns the importance of the things in our lives, and I found it insightful. You can read it at blogs.psychcentral.com/healing-together/2012/08/the-psychological-importance-of-our-stuff.
I’ve always been interested in other viewpoints and it has valid things to say, but left me feeling defensive--as if I were some curmudgeon intent on storming strangers’ homes, looking around, and announcing, “You’re keeping all this junk?” It made me feel like a spoilsport, intent on destroying everyone else’s innocent fun. I had to remind myself that I never offer unsolicited advice, that I don’t judge other people’s way of life, and that my own house is filled with things that are important to me.
When people approach me, it is usually because they have lost control of their environment in some way. They need to sort out what is important from what no longer resonates, and are often tripped up by emotions that make doing this hard. By cutting through the morass of mail, computer information, stuff passed down to us and the gifts and momentos we receive for every occasion, we can happily emerge on the other side.
But it isn’t easy. On August 1, registration for OLLI programs at Stony Brook was done online for the first time. Registration opened at 10:00 a.m. By 10:45 a.m. my class, “The Psychology of Stuff,” was filled and closed to further registrants. It made me feel bad for people who might really need it and didn’t get in.
It also reminded me how widespread the problem of too much stuff is, how confounding our emotional relationship to physical things really is. Fortunately, the cooler days of Fall are the perfect time to sort it all out.