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8.30.2012

IN EXCESS


I was struck by a conversation I was in recently. Telling it was of our culture's art of acquisitioning stuff - the lengths we go to get, possess, acquire and have.

Possessions, things, stuff, belongings are a necessary part of life. I get that. I have things as well. The pendulum though from necessities or simplicity has definitely swung to excess. And why I wonder do we stockpile and have more than we usually can use? Is it fear, a nice diversion in our lives, a feeling of security or power or worth?

When I was a realtor I was in houses built during all different eras. Some differences I noticed were; architectural style and design, quality of building materials, general layout differences, and sizes of rooms. Typically houses built before 1960-ish had rooms that were smaller with closets that were a fraction of the size of houses built later. In modern day real estate, a room cannot be counted as a bedroom without a door and a closet. Culturalism has now dictated housing standards of definition!

My dad will be 72 this year. When he was a boy being raised on a farm in the 1940-50's, he had several hooks on the wall in his bedroom that served as his closet. He had 3 pair of pants; 2 work pairs so while one was being washed you had another pair to wear, and one pair that were your good Sunday-go-to-meetin church pants. Maybe you had 4-6 shirts and two pair of shoes, but not much more.

Fast forward to today, some 60+ years later, and watch the show "House Hunters" to see people's desires to have enough closet space. It is deal breaker for many if there are small closets. We now need WALK-IN closets to house our clothes and accessories. The amazing thing is there are still only 7 days a week, 168 hours in a week with only approximately 112 hours of that time not spent sleeping thus requiring we wear clothes. And yet we have walk-in closets full of stuff of which we probably still only wear and gravitate toward a small portion of for like-ability reasons.

The woman standing near me, carrying with her luggage two Vera Bradley bags, commented that she bought 4 bags at the Vera Bradley show for $200. Normally, she stated, they would have cost her $500 or more. I smiled, giving her faux accolades for her "bargain money saving" over purchase! I stood listening to her while carrying a resale shop purse I bought for $4 still feeling excessive because I had 4 other purses at home.

We justify our bargains even. We rationalize the clearance rack. We applaud ourselves over coupons and hoards of food stashes that cost us pennies declaring we will eventually use it.

Our culture could no more live with 4 hooks on the wall for a closet, 3 pair of pants and 2 pair of shoes than astronauts could survive without space suits on Mars. We are in excess on just about everything in our culture - clothes, belongings, size of houses, our weight, our intolerances, our rights, our privileges, our consumption of food, and our debt. Having too much is just another form of neediness.

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