Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The porcelain lamp and the happiness quotient

Do things make people happy?


When I packed up my belongings and put them in storage 4 years ago, I spent a lot of time convincing myself I didn't need things to make me happy.

I was right. I've survived just fine without my antique mirror, hand painted porcelain lamp, and cozy faux fur.

But now, as I call movers for estimates, and I contemplate dismantling a storage locker packed to the brim, the truth is I can't wait to get my "stuff" back. I can't wait to trade in my mother's shredding towels for the thick white ones now laying in a box, just waiting for a towel bar to straddle. I can't wait to snuggle under my down comforter, in my OWN bed. I can't wait to arrange my family photos in the hallway upstairs, just the way I see fit.

So what does it all mean?

To me, it's not "the having" that is so important, it's the meaning behind "the having." Humans are creatures that lock memories in things: we have our mother's vase and our grandmother's serving spoon because they help us remember happy times. They help us remember our roots and the people who made us what we are today.

And having our own things, that we bought with our own money, to reflect our own desires and tastes, is a symbol of our independence and our success. These things show who we are, independent from our relatives. They show how we've put our own unique mark on living and making our way in today's world. And they remind us of our personal journeys: the steps we took when first graduated from college, when falling in love, when starting families.

Most of us have more than we need. We are swimming in toys, gadgets, and clothing, and so things have gotten a bad rap. But when you get down to the core, the essentials, then those remaining kitchen shears, desks, and stools can be beautiful reminders of our past and present.

I wonder how I will see my belongings anew as I unpack. I anticipate some emotional moments.

1 comment:

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