Saturday, December 19, 2009


Sorry, the philosophy major came out in me again, and the following occurred.

A Brief Manifesto Concerning Stuff

Part of gearing up for Triathlon season is removing myself from distractions. This has resulted in an introspection regarding my possessions. As I begin to move into a new phase in my life, I have embraced an aesthetic that has given me a freedom, joy, and pleasure previously unknown to my mind.

Recently, I sold all my stuff and what I couldn’t sell, I gave away. When I speak of stuff I am not speaking of my art or my tools.

My art includes my journals, photographs, music, relics, etc. My tools include my computer, instruments, car, triathlon gear, clothing, and money.

When I speak of stuff I speak of the superfluous clutter that permeates throughout my experiences as an American. This is not endemic to The States, but I believe, though not from experience, that it is universal in most of the developed world. People like stuff. It would reach the undeveloped world if only the people there had the means to buy stuff.

Let not this be taken as an attack against capitalism or money. I love capitalism and I enjoy money. Money is a means to the greatest life has to offer: leisure and accessibility to the ability to create and enjoy art in that leisure. Art does not need be acutely defined. It can extend from basketball to weaving to a music collection to family life.

The paradigm of contemporary society seems to contain a tragic disconnect with money and its purpose. People work for money to buy more stuff. Another thing to fill the garage beside the one car needed to get you where you are going. Another pointless piece of plastic in the attic. Something bought because it could be. It was probably on sale and that was reason enough. That digital dart board when you don't play darts. All blow up lawn ornaments. Three sets of salt and pepper shakers when you don't collect salt and pepper shakers.

This is not a call for austerity. Instead, it is a manifesto for thoughtful consumption.

Stuff is what is not a memory or a tool. It is what is obtained simply to have obtained it. Stuff serves no purpose. If you cannot explain the direct use or implicit pleasure in an object, destroy it or give it to someone who would define it as art or a tool.

I sold and donated all my books the day I realized my library card was far superior. I took bags and bags to the salvation army containing all clothes not worn in the past three months. This is not austere, only pragmatic and pleasurable.

Never have I understood purpose more than now. I have what I need to do what I do.

Stuff is the accumulation of whims.

Moving home to train I possess what I need, nothing more. Thus I finally can grapple with the importance of what I am doing with what I have. I am not grappling with having more. And to me that is happiness.

1 comment:

  1. I, as a political science/philosophy grad thoroughly enjoyed your piece on "stuff". Well said, my friend. Peace, little Sarah :)