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Too much stuff can be overwhelming. Perhaps hanging on to stuff is a way of trying to maintain control, or a way of thinking that we can maintain control. We build up walls of stuff—a buffer, or a moat if you will. Stuff has to be dusted, washed, rearranged. Stuff can make us blind and forgetful. There is stuff, so we do not see the world around us. We miss the beauty, the adventure. There is stuff, so we forget the tasks at hand—our true purpose—that we are here to here to help one another, to love one another. Stuff means that we forget this purpose because we cannot see it.

Accepting that we do not have control means realizing that all of the stuff we have accumulated does not make us safer, does not make us wiser. It means we have to recognize that more is not better. Being busy is not better, if the busyness is just in service to all the stuff.

Saying no to more stuff, means that we can say yes to acting on our purpose. We can say no, in order to be able to say yes. We can prioritize what’s most important to us in life and honor those things in our daily choices. We can scale back the stuff we accumulate, perhaps find another home for the stuff, outside of our space, and keep only those things we really use and love.

New life comes from simplifying. Clearing stuff out makes room for new ideas. Amassing less stuff, means we can make time in our lives to rest and do nothing – or do things we want to do instead of things we need to do to maintain the stuff.

As Arkan Lushwala wrote: “In our [Indigenous] culture wealth does not come from accumulating things but from having good relationships. (the relationships that make us feel well, both in times of abundance and times of scarcity.)” If we look at our world in terms of accumulating things, i.e., more stuff, then we risk missing out on more important, more precious aspects of life. If, instead, we are focused on being in relationship with others, with the natural world, we may find that stuff becomes less important, less all-consuming.

And thus, we come to a new way of being in the world: Being still, and not busy; listening and not jabbering on about stuff; looking out to see trees, flowers, birds, clouds, and not staring at our stuff. Along the way, we may find our purpose and our task: creating a socially just, spiritually fulfilling, and environmentally sustainable presence on earth.

When we come to this new way of being: we are free to focus not on stuff but rather on joy, purpose, love.


Check out The Story of Stuff Project, which started out with the short film, The Story of Stuff. From that beginning many conversations were launched about our consumption-crazed culture. Since then, Story of Stuff has produced animated shorts and documentaries that chart a path to a more just and sustainable future.



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