I’ve always thought that one can never have too many shoes, but having too much stuff is a different matter. Anyone who has ever moved house will likely say that they had too much stuff. Spring housecleaning might be another such time, but I couldn’t say from personal experience. However, now that I am organizing my belongings for my upcoming move, I’m thinking that I may have too much stuff.
There is stuff piled around that is still in the cardboard boxes I had packed it into when we were in
getting ready to move to Tarragona. This stuff has not seen the light of day for over
six years. When it comes to clothes,
with few exceptions, I adhere to the rule that if I haven’t worn it in the last
year, it needs to go. But that doesn’t
necessarily hold true for stuff.
You see, those cardboard boxes mostly contain my good, Desert Rose dishes and a few other special treasures. For one reason or another, renting my house out to tourists every summer so that treasures would not be safe being one of them, they remained packed up, safe and sound for several years.
Good dishes and other breakable treasures, however, are not the beginning and end of my collection of stuff. I have lots of books. Until two weeks ago, most of them were stored in the basement at Manel's house. I am only keeping those that I haven’t yet read or that I have read but that are my favorites and that I may want to read again some day. I give away books as I go, only keeping those I really like. In the last few weeks I have done an even more thorough weeding out. I buy almost all the books I read, and my friends rarely lend me books, so rereading my own saves money. Since I tend to read, enjoy, and forget, I can happily reread a book, even a mystery, a year after the first read and rarely remember who did it. Besides, it’s interesting to see, sometimes, how a book improves with age (my age) or how I can wonder why I ever liked it in the first place. And, who knows, maybe in my next location I will make friends with someone who has good reading taste and who will share their books with me.
But finally there is all the stuff some people would call useless. Not me, of course. For me this stuff is valuable: it brings beauty into my life at home, gives me continual pleasure, evokes memories, and feeds my soul. This is beautiful stuff, decorative stuff, stuff I’ve been given, bought in shops, or accumulated over the years at garage sales, antique markets, and travels. It’s unlikely that my new apartment will provide enough space to display it all. But I look forward to moving in, unpacking, and seeing how much of it I can display. But even before I get started, I know that there won’t be too much stuff because whatever doesn’t fit on display can be tucked away for later.
There’s a lovely book about the value of stuff. Still Life with Osyters and Lemons by Mark Doty sings the praises of all those beautiful things we like to collect and live with, stuff that enriches our lives. It’s one of the books I’m taking with me.