Sunday, August 13, 2017


Another shocking disappointment!

Well, maybe that is more than a little bit of an exaggeration, but it did make me swallow a couple of extra times, when on a recent visit our son Troy made the announcement that he had joined the minimalist movement.

The reason this was such a disturbance to my equilibrium was that Kathleen and I long ago forged this brilliant plan that during our last few years of mortality we would make sure our visiting children and grandchildren took some of our accumulated stuff with them when they came to visit. Kathleen had cemented our commitment to this plan by saying that when we passed away we would have nothing but a cardboard box sitting in the living room left of our stuff.

Here was our son Troy, eliminating 1/6 of our distribution plan. A decision that would make any aging parent swallow hard several times.

I am not saying we are charter members of the anti-minimalist movement, but when our wonderful friend, Peter Cook, comes to visit, he tells us he loves being in our home because it feels like a museum. We are grateful that he and our son Sean are always willing to relieve us of stuff whenever they come on their semi-annual visits. Maybe if we can convince them to visit more often they can fill in the void created by Troy.

During our recent three year termite inspection, the inspector even made a comment about how our home was a reflection of our life’s history. We seem to have been very obedient to a saying Boyd K. Packer was fond of repeating. Use it up – wear it out – make it do – or do without! In recent years we have been trying to add additional lines to this saying which might go; if you don't need it – give it away – if no one wants it – add it to the charity pile – if it is worn out - throw it away!

There is no doubt that we have spent most of our lives looking at our well-stocked lockers, laundries and larders wondering what of our abundance we would be better off doing without, only to shrug our shoulders, close the doors, knowing that someday we would probably have a need for all of that stuff.

Even with the recent millennials minimalist movement (MMM), I suspect the great majority of our homes resemble storage units for unused stuff because to someone it is still precious memorabilia; or someday someone will get around to using it; or it was someone’s scout or school project. There must be many anti-MMM people who have an unusual amount of stuff, because storage units are springing up around us like mushrooms in a boggy field.

A whole generation of architects has been needed to design more and more storage units on less and less land. We have created an industry which builds storage units we can put around our yards, so when our shelves sag because they are overladen with stuff we have someplace to stack them.

Our storage closets become so Fibber Magee-ish (You will have to ask someone who lived in the days when radio was the main form of entertainment in homes) (If you don't know what a radio is ask your grandparents) that we have to stack our stuff in our garages and build storage rooms or use the kids rooms when they move out.

We park our cars in the driveway or along the street because we have filled the garages with stifling amounts of stagnating stuff. Then when the car body consists of more rust than metal we have it towed to a junk yard to finish dissolving alongside our neighbors’ rusting cars.

This storing of stuff doesn't seem to be restricted to homes because governments build ever bigger buildings which bulge with excess stuff and set apart larger and larger plots of land to store stuff which won't fit in those buildings. Even gazillion bit computers in the clouds don't seem to be sufficient to store all the brilliant and not so brilliant ideas which were at one time important to one of the bazillion interest groups which have collectively invaded our world.

I don't believe anyone would have a very good argument if they were trying to defend the proposition that relationships are fortified because of the mountains of stuff we bury ourselves under.

Are our families stronger because we have enough televisions so that everyone can watch their own favorite programs at the same time?

Are the bonds of friendship strengthened because we are capable of being digitally connected 24/7?

Are we more united as universal brothers and sisters because more of us are able to surround ourselves with more stuff?

Are we more learned because everyone has access to the internet?

Obviously this short list is only a scant representation of the stuff which we feel we can't exist without, but I see little evidence that the continuous accumulation of stuff in our landfills is evidence of our advancement in those parts of our lives which are most important.

Although I don't see myself joining Troy in the MMM I do find myself pondering more often the question, what can we do without? While most of my life the answer seems to have been ‘nothing,’ I have as of late been supplementing that query with another question ‘what of all this stuff do we really need to maintain life?’ The list becomes shorter with each passing day.

These days the question which really causes me to wonder is, ‘how much longer indulging ourselves in this current climate of constant consumerism will we have space sufficient to allow us to make choices about accumulating stuff?’


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