If you’ve ever read this blog, you know quite well that I am addicted to stuff. Bikes. Guitars. Bags. Fountain pens. Computers. Phones. You know. Stuff.
Or, put another way, Crap. Bike crap. Guitar crap Bag crap. Fountain pen crap. Computer crap. Phone crap.
We live in a culture that conditions us, intentionally (in some instances) and unintentionally (in others) to identify ourselves through what belongs to us. Or, as Jules & the Polar Bears put it, “[w]ith all of your posssessions, tell me What do you belong to?“
I’ve decided enough is enough. I have begun the process of decrapification.
I used to own two bikes (and a whole lot of parts). I now own one, and a much smaller collection of spare parts. I currently own four guitars. At least one will be departing shortly. I’ve been debagging, but somehow it feels like they’re stalking me. I haven’t acquired a new pen in six months (and I used the ones I have) so I feel reasonably good there. Still using a computer I acquired almost three years ago (used) and I have stopped trying to hang an atrium on it with keyboards and monitors. I will leave my phone alone in the future and not mess with beta features.
It’s still a load of crap.
And what, I hear you say, is the matter with crap?
Well, two things.
The first is that there’s a constant competition to make ourselves somehow unique because of the particular distribution of crap that we own. That’s a lot harder, a lot harder, than it was when I was young. Been to a mall lately? Then you’ve just been to every mall in the country. The same stores with the same merchandise from sea to shining sea. Everything factory-produced, nothing unique. A mall in Alexandria, Virginia is distinguishable only in terms of size from one in Schenectady, New York, Onalaska, Wisconsin, or San Francisco, California. This means that you cannot be made unique through your purchases, because every one else is trying to do the same thing with the same selection.
But the second is more important. Crap gets in the way of people. We worry more about scratches on our cars (or bicycles) than we do about people starving or dying in wars. “But we can’t do anything about people starving or dying in wars,” the back of my brain says.
Crap. Of course we can do something about it. Not by clearing our plates, like our parents told us, but by giving a crap. Sometimes that means giving away our crap, and sometimes it means by putting software before hardware–doing things for other people rather than shopping for additional crap.
Whatever you may think of religion, whatever your stance on any afterlife, one thing is clear: you cannot take crap with you, even if you’re going somewhere.
So decrapify, cut the crap, and give one. Otherwise, you might as well just be this guy: