Stuff, part 1: Lessons from the playpen

Recently, I have been engaged in a battle with all the stuff in our house.  The great purge for our yard sale a couple of weeks ago was just the beginning.  It felt so good to move that stuff out of the house, that I'm looking for more things to jettison.  I've also been doing a lot of thinking about stuff in general and how it affects everyday life.  And because this is what I'm focusing on, it's also what I'm going to be writing about for the next few days.

You know, we just don't need all the stuff that accumulates.  I also think it has the opposite affect of the one we think it does.  Instead of making our lives richer and more enjoyable, having too many things in our lives cause distraction.  My basis for this assertion?  Watching G. and L. in their playpen.  While they enjoy being free range and having access to all the toys which litter live in our kitchen., I don't observe them ever actually playing.  Unless that is, you consider playing to mean emptying baskets and bins and strewing their contents about the room.

This behavior changes when they are put into the their playpen.  At first, neither is terribly happy about this state of affairs and there is a brief moment of wailing.  Wailing that lasts anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds.  But once the initial dismay is over, both girls happily settle down to actual play.  There are only a few toys in the pen:  some books, some small plastic animals, and maybe some toy cars or a small doll will appear.  It's not a lot, yet this small amount will keep them happy for an hour if I am in the same room with them.  They look at books, make the animals walk around, diaper the dolls, or sometimes I will look over and see them sitting quietly resting their heads together.  Even the basket which holds the toys becomes a plaything... a boat, or bed, or stool.

I realize that part of this contentment comes from the firm boundaries the pen supplies (and would be a whole other post), but the other piece of the puzzle is the limited amount of choice.  The toys they have to choose from do not overwhelm them.  Instead of trying to decide what to play with, they can just play.  It is relaxing to not be surrounded by too much stuff.

It is this feeling of relaxation that I am looking for in my entire home.  I do not want to sit down in a chair and be confronted with piles of stuff.  I want to be able to sit in a chair and see some empty space and the space which isn't empty filled only with things that I like and truly enjoy.  I am tired of the visual clutter distracting me from enjoying my home and family.

I want to make my home a sort of playpen for my family, with just enough stuff.  That 'just enough' amount is far less than we currently have.

The battle continues.
Stuff, part 2 -- Lessons from the too small house
Stuff, part 3 -- That's entropy, man
Stuff, conclusion -- The hard part


Shonya said…
Ah, yes, just what I needed to hear today! thanks

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