It used to be – in the Stone Age – that you measured your wealth in possessions and the more stuff you had (i.e. the more material for survival) more successful you were likely to be. In those days, stuff was synonymous with success. If you had a big storehouse filled with corn, that made you a big man on campus. In those days there was a logic behind holding on to possessions and things for years to come. Not anymore.
We now live in a fast paced, complicated age – an Information Age – in which stuff has become so irrelevant that it is now more of a problem than a boon...
In the old days – the Stone Age – you would go over to your neighbor’s cave and he or she would proudly show you around, making sure that you noticed all of the stuff that they had: the new bearskin rug, the five new clubs, the bone tipped spear, you would be envious and then never invite them over to your house because you had no stuff to show them.
Now however, most of the people I visit are embarrassed to have people over because they have too much stuff. Call it clutter or lack of organization or what you will, but the basic fact remains that almost every one of us is battling a completely opposite problem than before, keeping too much stuff out of our lives.
Now, when we work hard and aim for success, it shouldn't be to accumulate more and more stuff; it should be for something higher: quality of life.
Most people, however, are still caught up in the past even though they say they are not unconsciously tied to their material stockpiling . Most people are still holding on to stuff as if it were a sign of wealth. This is also often holding them back from being successful.
From having visited many, many people at home in the past five years, I can tell you that those that have been the most successful have had the least stuff around them and the most desire to get rid of even more. This editing is not a matter of money. It is a matter of intelligence, lightness of spirit and clear focus.
In our day and age the virtues of brute force and stockpiling have been replaced. The challenge now is to replace quantity with quality and protect our apartments from the world of stuff that lurks outside our doors.
(Re-edited from 2004-11-16 - MGR)