According to what I read, one of the fastest growing businesses, and the very fastest growing segment of the real estate market, is storage units. Storage units! That scares me.
What it means is that we as a society have too much stuff for our own good. So much that it won't fit in our houses, garages, attics, grandparents' barns and that go-to wonderland of extra space for unneeded crap, under the bed.
Both literally and metaphorically, our lives are overcrowded with excess. Too much to do, too much on our schedules, too many distractions, too much greed, too much minutia to be shared in too many places online, too many shows for even a half dozen recorder boxes to hold for us, too much stuff in every sense.
In the literal sense, look around your place right now. Are there clothes in your closet you haven't worn since the '90s? Do you still have boxes you've saved that belonged to products that are long since broken, outmoded and gone? Pet toys for animals that died of old age years ago? Books you will never read? Boxes and boxes of pictures of distant relatives' children whose names you couldn't remember for the life of you?
You've got too much stuff.
I'm not talking about compulsive hoarders, who need a backhoe to clear a path just to walk through their living room. Even those who are neat with a place for everything and everything in its place, tend to have too much.
The more you have, the more you have to worry about. And Lord forbid if you ever have to move, and box up all of that junk that you probably didn't even remember you had and hire a fleet of semis to get you across town.
Society demands excess. Six TV's, even though you only have two eyes. Four cars, though you only have one butt to haul around. Fifty pairs of shoes, when you only have two feet, just so people don't see you wearing the same thing twice.
You simply have to have every technological device that comes on the market, though by the point you actually have time to get it connected and figure out how to turn it on, you're convinced it is no longer the latest thing and already have your eye on the next gizmo you are sure you will need.
Collections - don't get me started. You are virtually expected, nearly demanded to collect something utterly worthless. A thousand bobble-head baseball players, or ceramic goats. Coins, stamps, movie posters, beer cans, hood ornaments, old records that you can't play, plates with little pictures painted on them.
So you haunt auctions and garage sales to pad out your collections with other people's junk, because that is what is expected. If three of something on a shelf is pretty nice - a storage unit packed with ten thousand of them must be great.
How much stuff does a person really need?
Look around you. How much, out of all you have, do you really, really need and use?
Problem is, the more you have, the more you want. Your days become a blur of searching for more, and envying and resenting those who seem to have one more of anything than you do.
The more you have, the more you have to worry about. What if someone takes some of your stuff!? Is your stuff well enough ensured, labeled, dusted, repaired, alphabetized. Have you trotted it out enough to show bored neighbors, so that everyone will appreciate the effort you've put into piling up more stuff?
Whole industries depend on your willingness to have too much stuff. I have a whole eBay list of "watched" items that must have appealed to me in some moment of weakness, but which I would be a fool to spend money on. I guarantee you there's not a thing on that list I need to get through the day. Barrett-Jackson car auctions depend on people's impulse to buy, buy, buy. People's Pinterest boards are jammed with items they lust after. Late night TV is full of infomercials to se11 you 100 collectible knives, or the entire series of state quarters, which you desperately must have... why?
I saw a study this week that people of moderate income with a lower amount of possessions actually report being "happier" than wealthy ones with vast amounts of treasure. The theory: less to worry about.
Another study comes across my desk today that says people who spend their money on "experience" type things instead of accumulating material things tend to be happier. I don't doubt either finding.
Your ideas of what the necessities of life are may be quite different than mine. The "keepers" should be things that touch your soul, not just things to show off and fill space.
I'm not much for hoarding. About once a week a box of bag of something I don't need heads to the SOS store or Salvation Army, in hopes it will wind up with someone who actually needs it.
I still sometimes find myself wanting things I really don't need. I still have too much junk, in my life and in my closets. Probably, you do too.
But at least we've got the idea, that the one thing we really need to start accumulating is simplicity, and that's a start.