“Instructions For A Bad Day” by Shane Koyczan
Dear reader, be forewarned that this won’t be a clearly thought out or particularly coherent post. Then again, who am I kidding? I have no readers and those who do check in are mystified that I’m still alive and apparently only write about new Star Wars movies. For those humble few, allow me to say… no, I haven’t seen Solo yet and that’s not what we’re talking about tonight. Terribly sorry to ruin your image of me and my current streak of geekdom.
No, I’m getting my typing fingers out of the garage to simply say that I’m sick of stuff. Of the maintenance, the acquisition, the sorting, and the… well… stuffiness of it. I have no idea if that’s grammatically correct or even makes sense, but what the hell – no one’s reading this anyways.
Stuff is part of the human condition. Whether we’re chasing after it, suffering from lack of it, or engaging in the eternal pursuit of a place for it – there’s no way to escape it. Well, what if you were to join some kind of order (religious or non-religious, your pick) where surrendering all of your earthly possessions was a requirement of membership and framed as being vitally important to your spiritual and/or mental well being. So there it goes, all your stuff taken away and leaving you, effectively, stuff-less.
But are you really?
You’d have to eat, right? So there’s bound to be a bowl or plate or utensil to be had somewhere around the temple/monastery/convent/dojo/compound that you’ve taken up residence in. Even if you’re eating straight out of your hand, there’s a cooking pot somewhere or at least a basket where the food was carried from one place to another – surely some kind of receptacle is in residence at your new home? But it’s not my stuff. Maybe not, but chances are you’ll wind up cleaning, caring for, moving, or putting it away – and for the briefest of moments, that’d be your stuff, wouldn’t it? I mean, if we get right down to it, the domicile in which you sleep – whether it be ancient, new, ramshackle, modern, or a tent – could be counted as… stuff.
We’ve had some repairs done to our front stairs over the last few weeks and have spent the better part of that time using the side door to our garage for entry and egress. This is the same garage where my band rehearses, I hang up laundry to dry from time to time, and keep musical gear. I’ve spent a fair amount of time looking around out there and this much is certain – it’s chock full of stuff. We have stuff in boxes, stuff in plastic totes, stuff too big for a container, sentimental stuff, stuff laying about on the floor because it fell off other stuff, practical stuff, duplicate stuff, stuff under stuff that I didn’t even realize we owned anymore, stuff that no one remembers where the hell it came from in the first place, and stuff that comprises a myriad of other categories.
One of the beautiful things about moving several times over the span of a year and a half in my late 20’s was that it forced me to whittle my pile of stuff down to essentials. It was freeing and glorious, which I suppose is an overly-romantic way of saying I barely had a pot to piss in. However, I do remember feeling a certain lightness. Sure, I was lonely and depressed and poor, but I was mobile! Now, I dread the idea of buying a new home because it would require a Herculean effort to sort through the piles of crap that fill this current abode so we could fit it into a flotilla of moving trucks. Some people think it’s romantic how their grandparents lived in the same house for 77 years, I think they just didn’t want to face packing.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s stuff that I like and enjoy. My car, for instance, is a pleasure to drive and I enjoy it greatly. My collection of vinyl records brings me a lot of joy. I have a plastic tote with all of my journals and notebooks that weighs about 60 lbs which I treasure. But do I seriously need all of this other junk around here? Will any of it ever be useful again? Was it in the first place?
Quite possibly, it wasn’t and it won’t be. Which means that some kind of stuff-related reckoning is on the way. Perhaps there’s some kind of book on tidying or minimalism that would help me along. Only trouble is, I don’t want to buy it because… well… you know…