Oscar Wilde might not necessarily be someone you’d like to be trapped in a lift with for too long, but he did have the odd eye for a truism. I refer to his essay ‘The Soul of Man under Socialism’, in which he bemoans the state of humanity at the time of writing. Buried amongst the talk of socialism, artists and such like is this little quote;

 Property not merely has duties, but has so many duties that its
possession to any large extent is a bore.  It involves endless
claims upon one, endless attention to business, endless bother.  If
property had simply pleasures, we could stand it; but its duties
make it unbearable.

Well blow me Oscar if you haven’t hit the nail on the head. He’s dang right of course. In essence, you don’t own property – property eventually owns you.

I reached such a conclusion the other day. It was another Sunday and the cleaner would be visiting the following day. So began a mad hour tidying up the house. I was struck –almost to the point of meltdown – about how much stuff we had here, Stuff I could not actually see a purpose for. Papers, correspondence, catalogues,  toys, clothes, kitchen utensils; the list was endless. I thought ‘Where does all this stuff come from?’ when of course the actual burning question was – ‘Where the hell does it all go?’

That’s why the wife and I have decided to have a clear out. Not just a cursory review, but a deep and lasting purge.  Wilde is right, keeping this stuff actually consumes mental and spiritual energy, so it’s got to go.

Unfortunately that brings me on to another question – where should it all go? I’m conscious that just chucking it adds to land-fill, the last thing I want to do. So the alternatives are to try to sell it, or pass to charity shops.

Both present different dilemmas. Passing to charity shops is a bit of a cop-out, as I think this just passes the problem onto a voluntary organisation that could probably do without having to sort out my junk for me.  I’ve seen how people take advantage of this. I’ve seen voluntary organisations hold jumble or rummage sales to raise funds and then end up with a huge load of junk they’ve had to dispose of.  So although it’s a worthwhile solution if it raises funds for the charity the quality of the Stuff you donate has to be thought about.

Selling Stuff second-hand is also a hit-and-miss affair. I did a car-boot sale about a year ago. We carefully sorted out decent bestselling toys and games and a few clothes that we no longer needed, assuming they would be of interest to someone. Well, what an eye opener that experience was! I sold very little, the sum profit from the event for me was about £27, after attending for about four and a half hours. Few people appeared to trust that the boxes of games and jigsaws were complete (and, to be fair to them,  it was difficult to convince people they were). And the other stuff was difficult to shift. In the end I would accept almost anything just to cover my petrol costs and the pitch fee.

So the lesson is that Stuff, once brought, appears to have little second-hand value. Once you buy it, it’s yours. For ever. So from this we should determine to stop buying so much Stuff in the first place.

This is going to be difficult with that great orgy of Stuff-buying about to descend upon us at the end of December. The hall floor already resounds to the thud of another catalogue hitting the deck. Luckily as I am home first these go straight into the recycling bin before they start to clog up the magazine rack. Or someone’s wish-list….

This year we have made a pact, following on from the decision in the last post, that Christmas will be a more modest affair this year. I don’t want to still be paying for it come next Easter!! And more importatntly I don’t want the house clogged up with stuff that rarely gets a look at. May as well leave it in the shop for someone else.

So let’s go. Let’s not buy so much stuff this year, huh? Give land-fill a chance.

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