Too Much Stuff

“Happiness is not found in things you posses, but in what you have the courage to release.”  -Nathaniel Hawthorne

I like paper.  I have always liked paper.  It started with paper dolls as a child and has never gone away.  I like the way that it feels.  Super smooth and refined running the gambit all the way to rough and full of texture.  I like variety in colors and patterns.  I like hand-made papers, papers with kimono patterns, fancy marbleized techniques, papers that feel like cloth and others that have been smoothed mechanically.   I can tell by touching a sheet of paper what it has been made with and the weight of it.  I like the possibilities that paper provides.  As a collage artist, I use a lot of paper in my work.

I was showing a friend some paper that I was using for an installation piece.  He said, “This is a lot of paper.  How much paper do you need?”  We have only known each other for a couple months at that time and he was new to my art and creative process.  I looked at him and smiled, “You can never have too much paper.”  He laughed and said, “For your artwork that is true!”

This got me thinking about stuff in general.  How much stuff does one person need?  I have seen the terrifying preview for a television show about hoarders and someone being buried alive.  I have also seen the program about tiny homes and listened to the interviews from people who want to be free from stuff.

Our consumer driven society pushes people to purchase things.  Advertisements sell us images of perfection and products that will “make” us, our homes, and lives more “beautiful” or “youthful” if one purchases this or that product.  This compulsion to have more drives one to purchase things that they do not want nor need.  And after the purchase has been completed does the luster wear off and buyer’s remorse set in?  Or does one rush to the next purchase?

I began to wonder, am I owned by objects? Do they control me?  Not a pleasant thought.  Then I wondered, how does one go through and decide what they really want and need?

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” -William Morris

I am inspired by the life and work of William Morris who lived from 1834-1896.  He was an English thinker, designer (carpets, patterns, and typefaces among other things), author and publisher.  He was saddened by the poor-quality, cheap and soulless decorative art that was mass-produced in 19th- century industrialized England.  I sometimes wonder would he be horrified if he were to see our modern society of mass-produced cheap and disposable items?  He instigated a revival of traditional arts and crafts, establishing his own working community.  The goal of his Arts & Crafts Movement was simplicity, beauty and craftsmanship.


Since I did not have the arts and crafts community of William Morris, I turned to a modern organizing guru, Marie Kondo.  She is the author of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Known as the KonMari method, it is the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.  One starts by discarding and then organizing the space, thoroughly, completely and in one go.  I found this book challenging and amazing all in one.  There is so much helpful advice and encouragement in it.  One thing that I found particularly helpful and empowering from Marie Kondo’s book was what I call the joy principle.  Does this bring me joy?  Yes.  Keep it.  No.  Get rid of it.

In preparation for my move, I had been cleaning up and going through my possessions.  I used the joy principle when deciding what to get rid of and what to keep.  I had a couple yard sales and given boxes of stuff to charitable organizations.  Some things that are special I have given to family and friends.

I do think that there is a healthy amount of possessions.  And what that amount is, depends on the person.  For me, there has to be a variety of paper to work with for my art.  For a friend who is a mountain biker, owning three or more bikes is necessary.  The bikes have different purposes.  For another friend who quilts, fabric is a constant staple.

What are some of your favorite things?  What is necessary for you?  What brings you joy?

15 thoughts on “Too Much Stuff

  1. I would love to see your paper artwork sometime. I am sure it will be stellar. Living frugal is so important but we all are blurring the line between needs and wants.

    What brings me joy is writing. I love to print them and other Joy is spending time with my kids. Thanks for your lovely read. And I will check the book recommendation ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. checkeredays says:

    If you can do it, so can I! I’m going to dust of the Konmari method.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful post, Jill. We live in a society that attaches fulfillment to possessions, and it is not easy to separate ourselves from that culture entirely.
    I have a real weakness when it comes to books. I love their sight and smell and feel, and even though I have cut way back, I still buy far too many.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Can’t wait to see you display your artwork on this platform. I am 100% sure they will be quite inspiring as your posts.
    Thanks for sharing this write up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A rather pleasant introspective article indeed! One of your key questions got me thinking. How does one go through and decide what they really want and need? I believe you are right, it does seem to depend on the person. For instance some roles & responsibilities require more material than others. My personal rule of thumb is that if my things can’t be packed & ready for transport within one hour, then there is too much stuff. Capitalism would no doubt collapse if all followed my example but in the long run it may be both necessary and to our advantage to reduce our attachment to ‘having’ and thus shift into a globally conscientious state of ‘being’. To think long and hard about such ramifications, implications and consequences that would follow from such a revolution would probably help us to deal more effectively with future climate changes & natural disasters that are on the rise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kanewischer says:

      Jason – Thank you so much for such a thoughtful and thought provoking comment. I love that you are able to be packed and ready in an hour. Unfortunately that is not me. But the process of sorting, packing and cleaning for my move really helped me streamline my stuff. And now, I have a lot less of it.
      I think your statement on shifting our thoughts and reducing our attachments to stuff is right on target and a great start to perspectives that will eventually enhance us as humans and affect everything including the planet. I really enjoy reading your blog.
      Thank you once again.

      Liked by 1 person

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