Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.
For the final day of the Writing101 challenge the prompt is to tell the story of my most prized possession. But I’m not going to do that. I want to talk to you about material things. I’ve spent a bit of time over the last few days thinking about, no, obsessing over, the stuff I own and whether I actually need it. Now that I’ve quit my job and have a more uncertain income situation I’ve been considering whether it might be time to move house.
There are pros and cons to every living arrangement. The room I have now is pretty cheap and it’s in a great location. On the other hand, the room I have is weirdly shaped, cramped, and drafty and there are ants in summer and there are four people living here (not to mention with various overnight guests). So, pros and cons.
I looked online for other places that would be less expensive, just assessing my options, and I started thinking about what I would take with me if I moved. There are some things that I’ve been carrying around with me for years that I hardly use, but for whatever reason I’ve been hanging on to. Objects which are associated with memories, with times in my life.
Take my stereo for instance. It was a present for my fifteenth (or possibly sixteenth) birthday from my parents. My brother sourced the components from the second hand hi-fi place he was working in, it’s chunky and old and I love it. It also comes with the two speakers I got at fifteen and the two much bigger speakers I inherited from my second boyfriend (the gothy one from this post). I’ve taken this stereo with me every time I’ve moved house since I left home, and if I’m honest, it’s really awkward, because it’s massive and loud and analog and and and.
It feels like a betrayal to consider getting rid of it – I’ve had some really great times with it, listening to music on my own, or using it to blast the neighbours at parties, but not lately. I’m beginning to realise that I’m a pretty big nanna; I don’t like parties or late nights, and for the most part I’m happy to listen to music through my computer. Which means I don’t need, or use, the stereo.
What other stuff am I hanging on to ‘just in case’ I want to use it? How often do I catch myself buying stuff just because it seemed like a good idea? I feel myself being a mindless consumer, wanting something just because it’s there, and it’s shiny, and someone else has it.
I know that things can have a lot of significance based on where you got them, who you got them from, what memories you’ve created with them, but in the end everything is just stuff. We’ll remember the stuff that’s great without the thing to remind us, especially if it’s a good memory. We’ll remember the hard times that we’ve had, deep in our hearts, whether or not we have the objects there to remind us.
I want to be able cherish the things I have and use, but to be able to disconnect myself from them when it’s time. Stuff is just stuff. The more you have, the more you have to lose. The more you carry the heavier the burden. I don’t need stuff to be happy. Most of my memories are stored in digital form anyway – my writing, my journals, my photos, are all on hard drives (and some websites), I won’t get rid of those, but what else do I need? I just need something to eat, somewhere to sleep, something to do, and people to love and to love me.
I’m going to repeat that to myself that over and over until it’s true.