When Jay was a young man, his idea of how much stuff one should have should be measured by how much you could get into a VW bus. And while he never really met that goal there were times when it was pretty darn close.
Now, as we make our 6th move in 11 years, our material possessions are measured in 216 packages, all fitting into a 20-foot container. Think of it. The product of a lifetime of accumulation of stuff contained in those 216 boxes. Now, one would think that with as many times as we’ve moved we would be accumulating less. And, to a point that’s true. It’s just that as many times as we’ve shed ourselves of worldly goods, they just seem to keep re-generating themselves, like the mythical many-headed Hydra. Not that we’re complaining. It’s what they call a “first-world problem”.
There are so many people around the globe right now who are desperate to get out of wherever they are with simply whatever they can carry with them. That was the case with our grandparents, who left pre-World War I Europe in 1913 to escape from what that disaster would eventually bring. And, our moves have all been by free choice. No one was forcing us out of wherever our home was at the time. There was no fear of being awakened in the night and being loaded onto a train heading east. There were no bombs or chemicals being dropped on us. All our previous neighborhoods were completely intact, not destroyed. So, not only are we incredibly fortunate to be free to move wherever we please, we can take whatever material things we’ve acquired with us.
But the paradox of acquiring stuff is now that, for Jay at least, we’re in the final third of our lives, the final “trimester” so to speak, the stuff becomes less and less important. Sure, we enjoy what we have but if in the coming weeks Container TCLU 765590 falls off the ship into the Atlantic Ocean on its way to the Port of Long Beach it really wouldn’t matter all that much. What’s in that container isn’t nearly as important as what’s in our hearts and heads and as long as we still have those, we’re OK.
Maybe the limit of how much stuff we could get into a VW bus wouldn’t be all that bad after all.