I found this essay about stuff by Paul Graham last year. It struck a chord at the time because we were packing to move from a bigger home to a smaller one. We gave away a lot of stuff but still brought a fair amount of it to the new place. There is now a room full of still packed stuff because it can’t be unpacked until the loft has been insulated and prepared as a storage space. So I have to wonder, if we haven’t touched all that stuff for 13 months, do we really need it? Do I even remember what it all is?
I dislike clutter. Whether PG’s theory about parsing is right or wrong I don’t know but I do know that, in my own home at least, I’m far more relaxed in a clean, tidy room than a dirty, cluttered one. So I’ve gone paper free with as many of my bills as possible and I’ve gone digital as far as possible. I download books to and use the Kindle app to read them on the iphone. I haven’t bought any CDs for quite a while, instead preferring to use Spotify. I realise that you can’t find everything on there but I find about 90% of what I want to listen to and that’s a good enough trade off for me. For films I use Sky Movies. In the rare case that I find a film that I’ll want to watch over and over again I will consider buying the disc but it’s more likely that I’ll just watch it again on Sky.
Christmas and birthdays are the worst times for accumulating things I don’t need. Specifically for these occasions I have a wish list on Amazon but sadly Kindle editions of books aren’t available as gifts yet. (Mind you, I do like ‘real’ books. I don’t class them as useless stuff, after all, they are useful when I need to save the iphone’s battery and, unlike digital editions, I can lend them to people. Anyway some books, such as cookery books, have to have a decent physical form to be of any use.) I don’t mind if people go ‘off list’ to buy me a gift provided that it’s something they’ve thought about. I have one dear friend who likes to introduce me to new books and it’s rather lovely. But on the whole I’d rather not have presents because I have everything I need and want.