Saturday, December 13, 2008

Too Much Abundance


Khuk Khak, Thailand - Ever get to the point where you’re sitting, looking at all the stuff you’ve accumulated and thought, “I don’t think I’d miss any of this shit were it to all go away.”?

I have. A couple of times, at least. A couple of times, both under emotional duress, I really didn’t care anymore about any of the physical possessions I had gathered over a lifetime. The magnitude of the issues going on at the time made the house and its contents insignificant by comparison. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar.

Well, stuff comes and goes. The Barbie dolls and Lionel trains of kids go in garage sales and charity, making way for bigger, more expensive toys, ending in any variety of appetites from gems and stocks to yachts, private jets, and castles in the woods.

Most of us would settle for less, like a nice stainless steel propane backyard barbeque pit, although poverty isn’t attractive either. Somewhere in between the castle in the woods and a cardboard box over a heat vent is where we could settle into a comfort zone. A nice wedding, nothing big and fancy, well, maybe big and fancy, ok, a nice rock to flash around, nice car, a nice house, nice stuff inside, no velvet Elvis’s, but nice stuff, y’know. Everything nice. Nice yard.

Nice furniture, nice carpets, nice bedroom set, nice dining table, nice sofa, nice kids…don’t throw those bean bags away. And teenagers’ll want those milk crates. All nice stuff, y’know. Dishwasher. Hell, yes. Two-car garage and one in the driveway. Riding mower. Nice vacation to somewhere nice.

And before you know it, you’ve justified your salary and filled up all your space. Artwork, sound system, refrigerator magnets.

And you’re sitting there in front of the tv. It’s on, but you’re not really watching, just passively…breathing…and the phone isn’t ringing, and you’re looking around, wondering where the hell all this shit came from, but you already know the answer to that, and you think maybe you ought to have a yard sale and take a trip to the dump, seized by the sudden horrifying notion of what you would do if you’d suddenly have to move.

Well, you need all that stuff. Kids gotta have their stuff, too, and families aren’t real unless they’ve got a lot of stuff lying around. What’s Christmas all about, anyway, if it isn’t the acquisition of more stuff?

Yeah, sure, Christmas is about giving, I know, but what do you give? More stuff. You give ‘em more stuff.


I lived across the road from an ironworker once. He worked in the steel mills. The shelves in his house were made of iron, bolted to the walls. Welded, filed down, hit with a grinder, a polisher. Tables, made of iron. Chairs made of iron. All his shit was iron.


*published out of chronological sequence, thus the Thai dateline. I'm not at all this whimsical right now.