Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Problem of Too Much

The main thing my son wanted for Christmas was a new Ipod. His old one has been temperamental for a few months now and in his mind it was time for an upgrade. We told him we'd make it happen but the rest of his gifts would be unexciting, things like games the whole family can enjoy or stuff I would have bought anyway like clothes and shoes.

Being the type of person that I am, I had our Christmas shopping done weeks ago. In fact, the main reason we had to get a tree as early as we did was because I needed a place to put the gifts. The arrival of the new Ipod under the tree came about three days after the old one died for good and at the exact same time the boy began to beg to open one of his gifts (can you guess which one?) early.

Jay and I put up the fight for a while but eventually caved on the one condition that the boy act super thrilled when he opened all of his non-Ipod related gifts on Christmas morning. The boy ripped into his package, set everything up, and began to download all of his songs. But then something went wrong. The Ipod seemed fine but not even half of his music library would download. Out of over 100 songs, he was only able to get 11. My first thought was Wow! We've shelled out a lot of money in the last year and a half funding this kid's love of shitty music. (Such as My Balls. Click it, you know you want to. Actually, it is kinda funny.) My second thought was Fuck! The one thing my kid wanted and we can't even get it to function properly. The next day and a half was spent Google-ing the problem and trying out different solutions. Eventually, we found the source of the issue and everything was fine but over that day and a half I was so stressed out. I just wanted everything to be easy and I wanted my son to enjoy his gift.

This was when it occurred to me how much I've come to hate stuff. Not all stuff and not all the time, but I hate it when I get stressed out about stuff. I hate when stuff distracts me from more important things like my kids or my husband. Or myself. I hate it when I just want to relax but I find myself having to deal with stuff.

A few years back Daphne posted about some new electronics gadget she had gotten and how she couldn't get it to work properly. I forget the specifics of the post and I'm quite sure that I'm completely paraphrasing (sorry Daph!) but I remember her mentioning that basically this was a problem stemming from having too much as opposed to the bigger problem of having too little. That stuck with me.

Here's the thing: I know that I have a lot less than a lot of people. I'm no longer a home owner. We're saving for a second car. My savings account isn't as substantial as I would like it to be. Yet, most of the everyday irritation in my life comes from too much or stuff.

As I get older I realize that the things that are making me the happiest are usually not related to stuff. The other night I spent four hours at a non impressive restaurant because I loved being with the people I was with and the conversation was so good that I didn't want the night to end. This Thanksgiving my family will be celebrating at the home of another family, we'll all be sharing the holiday. Together. I have friends to call, friends to write to, friends to send care packages to, and friends to email. I truly, genuinely love all of the people in my life right now.

When I think about it that way, who needs stuff?

11 comments:

Visty said...

This is totally unrelated to your post, but I am really amazed at how fast you found meaningful friendships after moving here. Maybe that's not totally unrelated. But either way, when my one good friend could not babysit my youngest for the funeral we all wanted to go to, my husband stayed home. We had NO ONE else to call. Nobody. I have tried, and I don't get what I am doing wrong. Or if my standards are too high. Or if my weird town is full of women I can barely tolerate. I am jealous, while being very glad for you that your Oregon experience is turning out to be much different from mine.

hester said...

Hi Tammie. This post rang so true with me. I can't get our MP3 player or our digital camera to behave and have given up trying. You are right - hanging out with people you love is the ultimate way to have a good time (apart from an uninterrupted night's sleep). And old fashioned mail is another of life's real pleasures. Hope the Boy enjoys his now functioning ipod.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Beautiful post Tammie.

Have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends!!

I'm thankful for Irregular Tammie and her blogger friendship....have to run now I need listen to My Balls.

Maria Rose said...

Ugh I know exactly what you mean. I am on a constant crusade to have less.

Tammie said...

visty: first, i cant tolerate a lot of the women in your weird little town either. i really avoid that place unless going to work. but also, Oregon is where i want to be. im happy here. the way you're feeling is the way i felt in florida. i felt like such a square peg and i was so tired of struggling to fit in that eventually i just gave up. but here i feel like i fit.
also, you know you could have called me, right? :)

daphne said...

I can't remember which gadget it was, but I definitely remember that episode. And yes, too much stuff is actually kind of opressive. I'm sort of looking forward to having less stuff for awhile. I wish I could see you guys this weekend to hang out at a crappy restaurant! Hopefully in December!

Jaime said...

I've always felt the same way about stuff. Who needs it? When too much stuff starts creeping its way into my life, I feel stuffy and my mind gets cluttered. I've literally gotten rid of most of my household three times. It is so refreshing. I love living in a one-bedroom condo, there isn't room to bring in more stuff:)

mandy said...

I couldn't agree more.
I love beautiful thoughtfully created 'things' but all the 'stuff'...not so much.
I was in Target the other day buying deodorant and thought, I really dislike this place, if I never had to come in here again it would be A-okay with me. Looking up deodorant recipes...

Run Lori Run said...

It doesn't help that I am a complete dumb-ass when it comes to gadgets. That's why it has taken me over a year to figure out my camera... That is why the stereo still doesn't play our cds... That is why I want to abandon electricity and live as a hermit in Forest Park...

Tammie said...

lori: i want to come live with you!!!

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

I'm with Visty -- I'm reading what you wrote and I think it's great that you've made so many connections in what is really a short time in Oregon. I'm impressed.

And yes, stuff can take over our lives in a not-so-good way. I refuse to get stressed over my kids electronic gadgets -- it is their problem. Not mine.