September 28, 2021
I have about four months left to live in Baton Rouge, and I will be moving back to India. I can’t take a lot of stuff back, obviously, and on the other hand, I have accumulated a …lot of stuff. I don’t feel a lot of guilt from a consumeristic perspective, because a lot of the things that I have at home have been purchased second-hand. However, I still have to do something with everything that I have.
This reminds me of a feeling I felt back in my first year here, in 2017. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. I was living in my first apartment in Baton Rouge along with a more senior graduate student. We were clearing things up in the apartment and when we found things that weren’t needed, we simply threw them away. That seemed amazing to me at the time. Things and belongings always seemed like baggage in the metaphorical sense. In some sense, this ability to throw things away seems to be a sort of American thing, or state of mind.
Ever since that time, I’ve evolved quite a bit in how and what I think, and especially about stuff. I have mostly lived alone in my time here, and I think that living alone gives you a deeper and more meaningful sense of what it means to “own” things. I am not sharing the ownership of my kitchen implements with a flatmate, partner, or someone else. It is there because I wanted it, and whether I bought it new or used, it is there in my kitchen. Anyway, I think I digress from the point I wanted to make.
The reason I am thinking about stuff is because, as I said earlier, I am moving out soon. Even though there are a few months left, I’d like to get as many things of mine to places and homes where they will be well used. I haven’t yet made a list or a spreadsheet with all the things I will give to people, sell, or donate to thrift stores, but I plan to in the near future. It would also be super exciting to possibly have a garage sale.
Another interesting aspect of this is that I don’t have much guilt of having “too much stuff”. I am not a fan of being minimalistic, or at least excessively so. There are many facets to my personality, and I like to cook, grow and ferment food. All of those things require a certain basic level of equipment, even if it is basic. So I don’t see myself as buying all sorts of things without a thought for it. In fact, I think I am in a good place regarding this where I don’t have guilt per se, but I do think carefully before buying something new. It needs to have a use for it to enter the home. Just because it’s cheap, or on sale, or available used (and hence with less consumeristic guilt or burden) doesn’t mean I get it.
(aside: I have used the word “guilt” often in this post)
A slightly morbid thought that has often crossed my mind is that this would be similar to me sorting through my things if I was preparing to die. And you know, I am not dying, but I am definitely moving my life from one place to another. If you were spiritually inclined, you might think that dying too is simply moving life from one place to another. This thought is a useful one in that it makes me think that I have some duty towards dispensing of my things in a useful or productive way. It would also not be good to leave too much behind and then expect someone else to sort through and organize it all.
I think with what I just said, the earlier aspect of living alone is also useful. The ownership of the ownershipness (what a phrase!) is clear, and it is my duty to figure this out.
Alright, I am sleepy now, but I am glad to have gotten all these words out. Blogging can be nice and fun, but only if it becomes a habit.