Why my possessions don’t own me.

I am hardly a fan of the consumer society. I am a child of the eighties who managed to avoid the whole excess of that period. Yet I still have managed to have a house overflowing with stuff. I guess you would call me a thrifty person and I also love anything old and interesting.

My father-in-law was a hoarder and we inherited a lot of his possessions – including his extensive rubber band collection which was pretty much just a lump of rubber after the 40-50 years he had been saving them for. (household hint – rubber bands perish after a time ). Whilst consumer goods hold little appeal to me I like the quirky, interesting and old.

So I now own a lot of these items. My father in law was a strange man who definitely had hoarding tendencies combined with absolutely appaling tastes.

He was born in 1916 but the 1970’s was his era. He was an architect and his house looked more like the Brady Bunch house than was comfortable. It had purple couches, green and orange wallpaper and gold lights. I am absolutely not exagerating when I say Elvis Presley’s Gracelands was a disappointment to me because it just could not compete with the blond brick 60s/70’s kitsch palace in Balwyn that was his creation.

Because he had no taste and was a total skinflint the collection was amazing. He had an unopened packet of breastshields from the 1960’s next to a beautiful 1920’s gramophone player. I don’t know when he expected to use the breastshields and I certainly had no use or interest in them but I did quickly grab the gramophone.

He had also stored dieldrin, hydrochloric acid and shotgun cartridges under the house -(household hint – hydrochloric acid must never, ever be put into a metal container. If you do it melts through causing an alarming amount of smoke. This results in a visit by the fire brigade and this writers need for a good lie down afterward.)

This all somehow explains why I now have a house bursting with things. Most of which I have not bought. I did an inventory once – I have purchased the fridge, the bed, the tv and stereo, laptop and about 50% of my clothing. That’s about it really, the rest has been found or given to us or I have made it. Neither me or my partner can say no. We both are non consumerists with similar tastes. EvenĀ our pets are 2nd hand.

All this is very good news for any charities within 10kms of my house. De-cluttering is a slow, slow process however as I have the view of maybe someday this will be useful even those 4 hole punches.

My own family were frustratingly the opposite. My mother had given away my father’s clothes the minute he passed away. We don’t even have photos of previous generations. I love the past, it fascinates me. It isn’t the desire for belongings that causes me to collect, it is the desire for the past, for history of which our family seems to have none. My mother was born in 1938 but is much, much more a child of the eighties than I ever was. Old is bad and dirty in her view. She comes from a poor family, so maybe they didn’t have anything worth keeping but it seems sad to just discard and replace it with new, poor quality crap.

I am interested in the whole make do and mend type ethos of WW2 or the carefulness of the depression era people. I don’t like buying new things I get so much more enjoyment from repairing or re-using. It’s nothing to do with money however. I would happily spend money to repair an item that could be bought cheaply. I hate the disposable society, there is something inhuman about it. I love re-using the items of a previous generation ( or before them). And the thing is these items have lasted. Items were expensive but last beyond a lifetime which is very different from the mass produced rubbish which we experience now, which barely lasts a year or two.

I believe we own too many things and usually poor quality things. My aim is to own less but better and I do seem a hell of a lot more contented with my lot that those people I know who always want more and more stuff.








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