Maybe it was because I was nine years old that I found Spock telling Kirk “It’s always been easier to destroy rather than to create” in Star Trek II deeply profound even though it’s an incredibly obvious statement. Then again, maybe I’m just dense because the other day, I was thinking about how easy it is to accumulate than it is to get rid of stuff and that struck me as deeply profound when it is such an incredibly obvious statement.
It came to me while I was watching one of the latest Curiosity Inc. videos. Alex Archbold has been doing a few of these series lately where he help clean out a hoarded or otherwise overstuffed house and then hopefully can profit off of the sale of some of the items. He also runs an antique store, so much of the profit goes back into that particular business. I find this aspect of it fascinating because while it’s not necessarily a side hustle–he does find things to sell in his store–it does seem like a good secondary way to make money. Heck, if I had the capital, patience, and didn’t think that my allergies would be set off at any moment, I’d totally look into doing that. Maybe I should have been a mover or something, because I love the idea of clearing out stuff in people’s houses.
ANYWAY … the houses on these videos range from “livable with an overstuffed space” to “not able to make your way through it at all” and what’s striking to me is that while there are always layers of stuff in these places, those layers are decades upon decades of stuff, like the rings of a large tree or the lines in rock formations. The remains of the Nineties, the Eighties, the Seventies, and even earlier than that are tucked away among all of the things stored in closets, attics, or basements. Sometimes, even right there in a bedroom or living room that got overrun. And it got overrun so easily, as someone just kept adding to a pile, perhaps thinking that whatever they had just bought would either come in use one day or might get resold.
Of course, they don’t think about the effort to use or resell that pile of stuff, and the effort that Alex and his team (which includes family, friends, and business associates) put forth is significant. You’ve got not only the cost of a crew or a dumpster, the physical labor but also the effort to think about each piece and evaluate its worth then sell it in a shop or at auction. But yeah, there comes a point I guess in everyone’s life where they have to face the unintended consequences of accumulation. I’ve been (shoddily) doing that for these past nearly 18 months or so, and the ideas in this post aren’t particularly new.
What’s new, in a sense, is how these videos reminded me of my grandparents and parents. None of my grandparents are alive anymore, and when they left their houses, I wasn’t part of the cleanout (although in both cases, I wasn’t available). I kind of wish I had been, though. There is something about going through all of those layers of stuff that tells you something about them and whether or not they have a story I mean, sometimes they don’t have stories and it’s just stuff, but even then, that stuff can still clue you into who that person is. The clothes on the racks, the books on the shelves, and even the brand of coffee in their cabinet tell you something about their tastes, quirks, daily routine, and maybe even some history.
As I get older and so do my parents, I wonder how this will play out in the future. When I think about the latter, prepared as I think I might be, I worry. hen I think of the former, I wonder if I have a job here to break that cycle of leaving things behind that make people wonder, or to tell a story through stuff. Then again, maybe our stuff is going to do that whether we like it or not.