What is it about “stuff” that we find so appealing?


This is a big question that I’ve been asking myself lately. Back in my ‘Lost in Ladyland‘ post I wrote a bit about some of my thoughts and desires on the goal of simplifying my life. My quest to bring about those goals has brought up a lot of uncomfortable habits that I have when it comes to “stuff” and “stuff acquisition”.  I’ve been forced to think about my relationship with several aspects of life that revolve around these issues and it’s brought up several areas of life that are effected peripherally by my quest for simplicity, areas I hadn’t put much thought into before in relation to this desire for less.


As a designer, I know the incredible value of simplicity. It was a concept that was constantly drilled into our heads by our professors. The goal of design is to convey an idea, a brand, a thought, a feeling; really anything effectively. Designing something that is “too much” results in confusion and distraction. Both of these are things I’m absolutely not a fan of in design, and yet, more and more I’ve noticed them cropping up more and more in life around me.


How do I eliminate those things in my everyday life?


The honest answer? I’m not sure yet. But I know what I want to take care of, that’s as start right?


I know the things I’ve mentioned in my Ladyland post (eliminating excess clothing, beauty products and the like) are a great start. Those happen to be areas of life that I’ve been really itching to overhaul for quite some time, but what about the rest of my life? I know it’s not the most organic way to say it, but I think I’ll approach my life like the design projects I take on all the time. I’ll take the same principles of design that I apply to my sketches, graphics and branding projects and apply those principles to really take on my biggest project yet: a kind of “rebrand” for my own life. I know it sounds kind of weird and constricting, but I think what I’ll find is that in taking the designers approach to my life, I’ll be able to look more objectively at the “stuff” of my life and edit things down according to my tastes and desires WAY more effectively than I am now. I’ve noticed that my tastes have shifted pretty dramatically even in the last year, so going through my things with my “life edit” objectives in mind will really allow me to take a harder look at what I’ve got, decide what to get rid of, and swap in what I want while also keeping in mind that the reduction of the inessential as my foremost goal. To get started, I think this is a great list that I’ll follow, considering each item and what I can do to better edit what I’ve got.


I’m kind of excited about it. I know that stepping back out of something as personal as the accumulation of life will be a lot harder than I think it will be, but I think I’m ready to make a go of it. ESPECIALLY now, when I’m in a season of very big transition, I think creating a blank canvas and setting out to do the exercise of determining what I want my life to look, feel and function like will be an excellent way to turn over this transitional new page and create a fresh canvas to start with the next season of life that is quickly approaching. I think I’ll be able to get down to the root of some of the issues I have with how I’m operating right now and also feel a great deal more in control of how things progress in the future. For we Type A’s, this is a BIG plus! I’m excited to give this a good go, I’m excited to learn more about myself and I’m excited to throw off some of the things I still carry around from my past that drag me down. I’m excited to bring things up to date according to what I find pleasing and valued now and I’m excited to watch the transition into this new season with fresh eyes. I cant help but think of one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite works of literature:


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

— Henry David Thoreau




Jamie CrouthamelComment