We Americans are well known for excess.

From much of the world’s viewpoint, we have more than we need of pretty much everything. TV shows like “American Pickers” highlight that fact and even glorify it to some extent, because having a lot of “stuff” is interesting.

While my wife and I don’t by any means have outbuildings packed to the rafters with things we’ve “collected” for decades (like the folks pickers Mike Wolf and Frank Fritz regularly deal with on their popular show), we also haven’t entirely been exceptions to the “American Stuff” rule. But rather than blindly clinging to boatloads of stuff that does little other than occupy space, we’ve truly come to realize we have more stuff than we need, and have taken action to rectify the situation.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

We haven’t yet hired a moving van to come to our remote Texas County high country outpost and haul away our problems all at once (and that’s not likely to happen), but we have chipped away our relatively modest accumulation by sending out more than we bring in. Whether by way of “setting up” at an outdoor flea market and making a few bucks, donating to a local charitable organization, or simply contributing to the landfill near Hartville, we’ve seen many items deemed excessive go bye-bye in the recent past.

Each and every time we put together another bag or box of stuff to go away, we can’t help but ponder why much of it exists. It’s like, why again do we have this old lazy Susan or this we never use?

I, of course, take the pondering a step further and try to analyze why excess stuff in general is so integral to American society. I guess it’s at least in part because of a more-is-better mindset, and I think “more” is often justified with a number of illogical and emotional rationalizations, like status, success and even security. It’s like, the more stuff, the more esteem and assuredness of well being. I think there’s even a wholeness aspect involved – like if a piece of stuff goes away, a portion of someone’s collective entirety goes, too, and there’s a hesitance to face that discomfort.

But I, for one, am calling out the whole “stuff” thing, and taking satisfaction in an ongoing de-stuffing program. My wife and I might not yet have attained “minimalist” status (and likely never will), but we’re culling, trimming, paring, diminishing and generally reducing whenever we can in every way we can.

And we’re doing it the only way I think it can be done – without hesitation and with no regard to regret. I’m pretty sure we’re safe; we probably won’t even remember the stuff that “goes,” let alone miss it.

Anyway, I can truthfully say it feels great and has proven very rewarding to move out the stuff. Our home feels lighter, airier and less cluttered each time an unnecessary wall hanging comes down or a bunch of old clothes are bagged up.

And we’re far from finished. Can I interest you in a like-new set of microwavable plastic storage containers, a 26X22 cabin-by-a-lake print in handmade wooden frame or three pairs of barely used sandals? How about a four-head hi-fi VCR and a box of gently used VHS movies?

They’ve all gotta go, and you’re more than welcome to add them to your stuff.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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