The Absurdity of the Public Storage Industry

One good reason for having a good clear out is space. Most people have too much “stuff” and, so they believe, not enough space. As the average house size has increased, so has consumption. Anywhere there is space, it gets filled. But to what end? How much do we actually use and how much is it more of a burden to hold onto it than it is to get rid of it?

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the proliferation in more recent decades of public storage. Now we not only fill our homes and garages with mounds and mounds of stuff, we pay to rent a space for our stuff! Often, it is thought this will be temporary, but it isn’t long until enough time goes by that you’ve paid more to store the stuff than it’s worth. At this point we have truly become slaves to our stuff, working to house things we don’t need, want, or ultimately really care about.

Part of my story with stuff now is my husband’s stuff. For myself, I have moved so often I’ve been forced to pare down my stuff a fair bit, though it seems to mate and reproduce in the dark somehow. My husband, on the other hand, has not really had to do this. He had his stuff in storage for almost a decade. When we moved recently and bought a storage container (our current housing is very small), we moved his stuff into that along with other stuff that we don’t have space for right now. I have been going through a lot of it and filled the small dumpster a couple of times and we’ve taken several loads to the second hand shop. We have even sold a few things on eBay.

The point is, much of what he had stored was either junk in the first place or had become outdated in one way or another. It would have been better to have got rid of it sooner than spend close to $5K on storing garbage.

There is a sense of clinging with all this hoarding of things. Everything you buy is destined to become garbage, so it’s best to think of it as garbage from the start. Is this something you really need, or simply more future garbage to junk up your life (and the planet) with? Are you merely a consumer, or a mindful inhabitant of the earth?

I think the recent fascination with minimalism is a reaction to this over consumption. People are feeling bloated and over full as any form of gluttony leads to this feeling. While we do not need to go full on minimalist, I think it comes as a kind of relief, like a temporary fast that allows one to come back to the table refreshed, rather than still bloated from the last feast. As a habitual practice, this helps to keep the mind clear and to guard against excess. It isn’t hard to see the application to consumerism as a form of gluttony. The storage unit that serves no other purpose than to hold onto “stuff” is the ever expanding waistline of the glutton. The overflow of stuff has nowhere to go but in some expansion or other.

My husband was (understandably) a little apprehensive at first. It can be difficult enough to let things go, but more so to allow someone else to make those decisions. But as I went through, getting rid of obvious garbage (old bank statements from bank accounts that no longer exist, for example) and making piles of things for him to go through himself, thereby making the job easier for him, I think I can say he started to enjoy the process. I do believe that things can begin to act as an albatross around one’s neck, and that casting it off is a relief. Some burdens are unknown until they are lifted. You never know what physical symptoms might be due to some spiritual burden.

It may sound far-fetched, but if enough people decided to stop being consumer-slaves, to become mindful of what they gather into their lives, and not to bring in so much junk, perhaps people would be less selfish, less greedy, and more peaceful and empathetic. If “the wages of sin is death”, then it would also be true that “the wages of virtue is life”. It is always better to be mindful than to be mindless, whether with regard to ‘big’ things or ‘small’ things. A cliché it may be, but true nonetheless; a giant oak from a small acorn grows.

Stop it!

I’m thinking some explanation would be good. I haven’t decided quite what I’m going to do but feel like it’s time to start a different project. Of course, I tend to do this often, so even I don’t know how long it will last, but there have been things going on that kind of follow a theme for me.

I’m not sure where it started, but it may have been when I flipped out last month and decided I wasn’t going to smoke anymore. I came to the conclusion that most so-called addiction is really mostly habit. It’s not a genuine addiction but a compulsion. It is the habit pull that is hardest to break, and you simply have to be either very stubborn or very determined in a way that once you make a decision, your integrity depends upon you sticking to it.

It’s been over a month and I can’t say I miss it. It’s a ridiculous habit that has no benefit and plenty of cons. I understand that there are debates within the “quit community” (everything is a faux-community now) but I speak of my own experience as well as simple logic. The only way to quit smoking is to stop putting cigarettes in your mouth and lighting them. It’s truly that simple. Anything else strikes me as so much rationalization and excuses to keep smoking. I’d go so far as to say this applies to any habit one wants to dispense with: then dispense with it! In the words of Bob Newhart, stop it!

This is a longish digression from the reason I sat down to write, though. There are a lot of backed up ideas and thoughts that are trying to get out but it can be hard to know where to start, so I’ve started here. The theme at the moment is “cleaning up”, which has physical and mental/spiritual aspects that I hope to tie together as simply as possible. I have inspired a couple of people in my offline life to get decluttering and am inspired to keep going with my own project.

I will say one thing though; the physical and the mental affect each other in turn. Obvious as it may be, if you do not feel inspired but do it anyway, the will tends to come along eventually in spite of itself. I will tell the story of my own family’s crap that kind of started this whole theme, as well as other changes in habits, and perhaps do a different (for me) kind of writing. I have grown totally weary of the kind of thing I’ve done in the past and, in the spirit of clearing out the crap, I am seeing how a revamp or relaunch of this blog goes. Experimental stages for now. I might need a friendlier looking picture, but I’m not a big smile for the camera kind of gal. ☺

To be continued…