Stuff

Postby Bodi » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:40 am

What do you do when you feel out of control of your life?

I cannot seem to find something to focus on to feel whole or proud of where I am. Every moment I spend feeling like I should be doing something else. Even when I am doing that something else, it is still not enough. I get frustrated, and give up.

My great aunt passed away three years ago. When she died, I went to her tiny apartment with my grandfather (her brother). Her possessions spilled out of every cupboard, closet, corner, and hallway - floor to ceiling, packed with stuff. She lived alone. She had no pets. She flew kites. She died in pain, prematurely from cancer that took her within a year of diagnosis.

She insisted I take some of her things. She wanted me to go to her home and take her things, because she was dying, and she wanted someone to take her things. She kept asking me if I would take her grandfather’s trunk, and her computer, and her books. I said yes, yes. I would take some food, she still had some good chocolates, and I needed to take the juice she had in the pantry. I needed to take her cookware, and her blankets. She had some lovely blankets. I had to take one of her kites, but most would be donated to the club she belonged to. She said she had some art her friends had made, and I should take some of those, too. And I absolutely needed to take care of the china her mother had bought her. Her mother bought her a new piece every year for her birthday. She had thirty or so pieces. I said yes, because her face would flush with relief.

When I was sixteen, I was homeless and had nothing but a few donation goods in possession. My entire home was in a backpack. Now I have all these things. I feel like Jacob Marley, shackled down, carrying the weight of the material world.

I don’t know what to do to change. I have a pile of bills on my desk. I have piles of laundry on the bed. I have piles of food and piles of cleaning products and piles of papers and piles of dishes and piles of blankets and giant trunk of old artwork. I have piles of furniture in a storage unit. It isn’t all mine; some belongs to my husband, but it is there in my life just the same.

We also have piles of garbage - because we can’t throw things away when there is no place for it to go. All those books about "decluttering" - put it in a black bag and shove it in the bin. Nothing is said of where all these things should end up. How they should be treated, or transformed. No one has those answers.

There is no place for anything. How can it change?
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#1

Postby Tendani » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:19 am

I think on the issue of giving up on doing something, You should find something that you enjoy doing and do just that.
Try lot of things in order to find something that will fill the gap in your life, you heart will tell you when you find that one thing.
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#2

Postby Candid » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:23 am

Bodi wrote:Nothing is said of where all these things should end up. How they should be treated, or transformed. No one has those answers.


I think you know this yourself, and it's a project that will answer your opening question about feeling out of control of your life.

All this stuff is oppressing you. There's real wistfulness in your recollection of being 16, homeless, and with everything you owned in a backpack. There was freedom in that, wasn't there? You mention a husband, and that he has lots of stuff too, so presumably you don't want to go back to that freedom. Or do you? Could it be that the home filled with stuff is a metaphor, and that what you really want is a way out of an oppressive marriage?

I'll assume for now that the answer to that is No. The project I recommend is that you start getting rid of the physical stuff. The only criterion is whether you truly want this object in your life. Anything of value, such as furniture, can be sold online. Anything that's merely of sentimental value, such as the art and china, can be donated to a second-hand store. Go piece by piece through great-aunt's cookware, keep what's better than your own and throw the rest, including your own stuff that hers has replaced. Same with the blankets. You might need a skip for this.

You gave great-aunt the assurance that you would accept her stuff, and that brought her relief. She passed away believing that her lifetime's belongings were going to someone who would care about them as she did. I don't think you do, and you are under no obligation to keep it all and become a worse hoarder than she was.

I have piles of laundry on the bed. I have piles of food and piles of cleaning products and piles of papers and piles of dishes and piles of blankets and giant trunk of old artwork.


Stuff attracts stuff. The giant trunk will be a treasured antique to someone; the artwork is probably just junk or it would have been sold by the artist. Use up and throw away. Sell or give away. Once you wave that rubbish skip goodbye, you'll feel ready to attack your own laundry and bills. You won't be tripping over things that prevent you giving your home a good clean.

Great-aunt didn't leave you all that stuff to weigh you down and paralyze you. You're not hurting her in any way by making your home what it should be: a haven. Your home represents you. Small wonder you feel as though you've lost control!

If the kite you took was a pretty one, stick it up on the wall of the smallest room in your home. Whenever you sit there you can contemplate your great-aunt soaring free of all her stuff, as she surely is now, and you can hope for the same yourself.
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#3

Postby Bodi » Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:46 am

Candid wrote:
Bodi wrote:Nothing is said of where all these things should end up. How they should be treated, or transformed. No one has those answers.


I think you know this yourself, and it's a project that will answer your opening question about feeling out of control of your life.

All this stuff is oppressing you. There's real wistfulness in your recollection of being 16, homeless, and with everything you owned in a backpack. There was freedom in that, wasn't there? You mention a husband, and that he has lots of stuff too, so presumably you don't want to go back to that freedom. Or do you? Could it be that the home filled with stuff is a metaphor, and that what you really want is a way out of an oppressive marriage?

I'll assume for now that the answer to that is No. The project I recommend is that you start getting rid of the physical stuff. The only criterion is whether you truly want this object in your life. Anything of value, such as furniture, can be sold online. Anything that's merely of sentimental value, such as the art and china, can be donated to a second-hand store. Go piece by piece through great-aunt's cookware, keep what's better than your own and throw the rest, including your own stuff that hers has replaced. Same with the blankets. You might need a skip for this.

You gave great-aunt the assurance that you would accept her stuff, and that brought her relief. She passed away believing that her lifetime's belongings were going to someone who would care about them as she did. I don't think you do, and you are under no obligation to keep it all and become a worse hoarder than she was.

I have piles of laundry on the bed. I have piles of food and piles of cleaning products and piles of papers and piles of dishes and piles of blankets and giant trunk of old artwork.


Stuff attracts stuff. The giant trunk will be a treasured antique to someone; the artwork is probably just junk or it would have been sold by the artist. Use up and throw away. Sell or give away. Once you wave that rubbish skip goodbye, you'll feel ready to attack your own laundry and bills. You won't be tripping over things that prevent you giving your home a good clean.

Great-aunt didn't leave you all that stuff to weigh you down and paralyze you. You're not hurting her in any way by making your home what it should be: a haven. Your home represents you. Small wonder you feel as though you've lost control!

If the kite you took was a pretty one, stick it up on the wall of the smallest room in your home. Whenever you sit there you can contemplate your great-aunt soaring free of all her stuff, as she surely is now, and you can hope for the same yourself.


Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I have plans to hang her kite, indeed.

I was prompted to write because I spent the day going through all our electronics. I sorted them for recycle, for donation, and for selling. It was very organized and efficient ridding of a couple boxes of technology: dead batteries, cords, cables, packaging, CDs, a broken calculator, computer stuff, broken or old phones, etc.

Yet it did not feel like forward motion or progress. It made me even more angry and frustrated. Separating from even broken items felt wrong. It deeply bothers me both to have things and get rid of them.

Too little attention is paid to what we bring into the world, and in consequence what we leave behind. I think of my great aunt because she crystallized the spiritual suffering of it. It is a problem of disposable affluence, in a society where the poor attempt a deceptive standard of living, made possible by almost zero restrictions on debt. Living in the red, which is worse - in it's way.

Why couldn't I fix the calculator? Why do I have all these phones I never wanted? Why is the mass of packaging so much larger than the product? Why am I not allowed to put milk jugs in the recycle?

I tried living without internet or TV for three months. I did not want to be dependent or waste my time with easy distractions that require electricity, screens, and high monthly payments. But in order to contact businesses, I needed a phone book, and it took two weeks to locate one. I was nearly cut off from family and friends because they only allowed communication over social media. I used paper maps, which invited ridicule. I could not recieve some of my bills. I discovered I could not live how I wanted without great difficulty and stress.

All the stuff is a reminder that I am at the mercy of these expectations. I am compromised no matter what I do. I cannot embrace the options presented, but I am too cowardly or incompetent to reject them outright. I hate that so much.

It might sound like I am going in many directions here, but it is all the same problem: How many people accept how they are told to live, and turn themselves off in order to be complicit - avoiding the risk of trying something different to find their own truth? To really examine your life and live deliberately would reveal how little control we have over our circumstances.

I suppose I am confronted with that often, and perhaps I will never know a way out.
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#4

Postby Candid » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:15 am

There are people living in communes, only some of them religion-based, with varying levels of technology. Some people do escape the rat race, grow their own food, have assigned jobs that they're good at, create artworks and sell them at the nearest market, etc. http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/responsibl ... nable-path For the rest of us, the only way out is in a box.

I spent the day going through all our electronics. I sorted them ...

Yet it did not feel like forward motion or progress. It made me even more angry and frustrated. Separating from even broken items felt wrong. It deeply bothers me both to have things and get rid of them.


It's a process, and as Louise Hay wrote, "The Universe loves symbolic gestures." Once the things have gone, and a little time has passed, you will neither have the things nor need to get rid of them. You'll be even more choosy about what comes into your home.
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#5

Postby Bodi » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:48 pm

Candid wrote:There are people living in communes, only some of them religion-based, with varying levels of technology. Some people do escape the rat race, grow their own food, have assigned jobs that they're good at, create artworks and sell them at the nearest market, etc.

It's a process, and as Louise Hay wrote, "The Universe loves symbolic gestures." Once the things have gone, and a little time has passed, you will neither have the things nor need to get rid of them. You'll be even more choosy about what comes into your home.


Thanks for the link. There are some interesting projects going on. Breitenbush had an ad out for a residence there to work/join the community a few years ago. I wanted to apply but I chickened out. In my dream of dreams I would go work with Open Source Ecology.

The process is that I tend to take in more before enough is released. There are always 8 buns in a package but only five hot dogs, so it takes forty packages of each before you can finally get rid of both (if I can use such a ridiculous metaphor for the ridiculous situation).

Finding the correct mindset is the mystery. I don't want the mindset that I don't care where things come from and where they go. That is the usual attitude which results in toxic lakes in Mongolia and trash cities in India. However, it is the less stressful mindset when all that is far enough away that I cannot see it. That gives it the wide appeal for most people.

You make the case for a clean slate. Do the dirty work and then keep my nose washed from there. In essence, that is what I am doing because there is no other way.

My line of work is to protect the environment and public health. To that end, we actually create a huge amount of landfill waste. I approached a vendor to ask why they were not attempting to reduce the mass of garbage their products create, and they told me it was because there was no pressure to do so from the United States purchasers.

There is a conflict between the health industry and environmentalists. It is rarely addressed. Disposable is safer, but a burden on ecosystems. Durable is more energy intensive for humans, but overall more sustainable.

Anyway, it is so pervasive. I cannot even begin to know how to act in good conscience because I participate on so many levels. It is paralyzing. The amount of personal energy it would take is more than I have to give; so, I suppose I wonder where I am to find that energy and not get discouraged. A commune is pretty drastic. I don't know. Maybe that is what it would take.
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#6

Postby Candid » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:26 am

Bodi wrote: I don't want the mindset that I don't care where things come from and where they go. That is the usual attitude which results in toxic lakes in Mongolia and trash cities in India. However, it is the less stressful mindset when all that is far enough away that I cannot see it. That gives it the wide appeal for most people.

<...>

I approached a vendor to ask why they were not attempting to reduce the mass of garbage their products create


We weren't always such a wasteful species. The over-packaging and built-in obsolescence are about job creation, which is about too many people. I agree, very hard on the planet, but I don't think we'll ever get governments to act in a way that reduces the all-important GDP.
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#7

Postby JuliusFawcett » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:39 pm

Choosing to be not satisfied is the path of the ego. Learning to accept the world as it is and being satisfied with it is the path of enlightenment. We get to choose.
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#8

Postby Bodi » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:10 pm

JuliusFawcett wrote:Choosing to be not satisfied is the path of the ego. Learning to accept the world as it is and being satisfied with it is the path of enlightenment. We get to choose.


Hi there Julius.

I believe there is a difference between accepting things as they are and compromising my principles.

You may have a principle that says everyone deserves happiness, but you accept not everyone is happy. Still, you strive to create more happiness for others. You are not satisfied to leave misery be, and I think that is good. Is it ego that makes you believe you can help, or gives you a sense of what is right? I don't ask in judgement, just trying to understand how you interpret these connundrums.

What is enlightenment?
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#9

Postby JuliusFawcett » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:57 pm

I am satisfied that people choose happiness when they have had enough of suffering, everything happens at the perfect time and I accept that. There is no need to strive to create more happiness, it happens when it happens. I can't help anyone who isn't ready to choose happiness for themselves, they are the only thinkers in their mind, they will know when they are done experimenting with suffering.

I can lead a life of consistent happiness as a positive example of how to be. Surrendering to what is, and this is enlightenment. A life of ease with no striving required, no ego required. I can only do this if I have had enough of striving.

I have had enough of striving, I have had enough of suffering, I am no better than anyone else, I am ready to choose happiness, to choose acceptance, to surrender to what is, to welcome the grace and peace that this offers. I recommend it to you, but that means nothing if you still enjoy the rollercoaster ride of the ego :)
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