In increase In The Air, George Clooney espouses stripping our stays down come the bare essentials, the critical constituents, materially and socially. At a seminar, he provides a speech in which he lists the unlimited detritus a person accumulates transparent its life: “The shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks. Climate you start including larger stuff. Clothes, tabletop appliances, lamps, your TV…Your couch, your car, her home.” climate he asks the audience to unpack it all, including their relationships. When the film treats his approach with a degree of dramatic irony—after all, we know this is a sad male plagued by loneliness and existential angst — I would argue, in moderation, this sound pretty liberating. Although perform I think we room “sharks”, as Clooney puts it? Well, no, or not me in ~ least. However I do think yes sir a tremendous psychological/spiritual load in connecting yourself to too many objects (also, people and also places yet I’ll restrict myself below to possessions).

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People roll v life favor Katamaris, picking up objects prefer juicers, rugs, decorative mirrors, placemats, vases, granite countertops, etc.; yielding to your primal drive to hunt and gather nevertheless of whether these items room actually useful. In mine family, this manifests itself in plates, numerous decorative key no one might eat off of, exiled come the cabinets forevermore. I doubt my prolonged family’s dishware, if assembled in a single stack, would climb up past the moon, climate topple over and also kill thousands.

But eventually, us exceed capacity, and also we need ever larger receptacles for our objects: a bag, a closet, an apartment, a house, a larger house, a warehouse container, and also so ~ above (see: George Carlin’s “A location For my Stuff”). Before you understand it, you finish up curator the The Museum of Uninteresting Objects. The exhausting, controlling all this objects, practically a full-time job in itself v all the cleaning and also organizing, and God aid you if you need to move. Then there’s the mental cloudiness that originates from a cluttered setting seeping right into your psyche favor a leaky submarine. The interior inevitably reflects the external.

I actually think Clooney’s “unpack the suitcase” an allegory is as well weak. The way I view it, every thing you very own is linked to you by a string like the residence in Up, and also each string is tied come a fishhook installed in her abdomen. The much more objects, the an ext strings, and also the greater the weight on those fishhooks. Native Martha Stewart, IKEA catalogues, and HGTV, we’re led to believe each of ours objects is a synecdoche for our true selves, and also so we invest our feeling of individuality in them, but you room not a collection of assorted objects assembled out of the setting any an ext than an ant is an anthill. Girlfriend are just yourself, a consciousness in a brain in a skull. The is all.

One reason for acquiring so countless objects is to present what evolutionary psychologists call “resource-holding potential”, a method of heralding to potential mates your Darwinian fitness in regards to procuring things, buying things, having actually things; as in, the exercise of bridal dowries or that illustration of Girls whereby Lena Dunham loses she damn mind over Patrick Wilson’s house. Or picture a squirrel lady who, being responsible and assiduous, has stored many of nuts because that winter. She goes to visit a sexy squirrel boy she’s to be dating, only to discover this boy has acquired no nuts, is in reality utterly nutless. “I can’t have baby squirrels v you,” she says. “There i will not ~ be enough nuts between us to keep them indigenous starving.” and also the male squirrel says, “But stockpiling nuts makes my tree cramped and also claustrophobic, and I actually don’t uncover nuts all that palatable, and besides, us live beside a grocery store dumpster. Us have whatever we need.” the doesn’t matter to the responsible lady squirrel. He is displaying poor “resource-holding potential”, the dummy.

Another reason: you believe your objects space magically imbued with the significance of dead relatives; e.g., her aunt’s old rocking chair, her grandmother’s teapot, your great uncle’s oak dresser. This is a great way come not only foist vast quantities of ancient junk top top children, however to instill constant low-level anxiety concerning its preservation. Discover yourself shouting, “Did you spill wine on mine grandmother’s silk tablecloth, you stupid kid of a bitch?” or “Oh mine God, I broke my good great grandfather’s toilet record holder!” things is not immediately conferred worth simply because it’s old, and perhaps also deserves less value because that being fragile and decayed. The just inherited items I see as precious incorporate art, letters, and also photographs; all of these items were made (by the relative), no purchased.

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Another reason: consumer behaviors, i.e. Shopping, cause the neurotransmitter dopamine, the body’s reward chemical. This disclosure purchasing junk and thus, subverts dopamine’s an ext enriching purpose which is to encourage the mind to look for out pundit connections, magnificent meaning, and synthesize ideas—that is come say, creativity. This is probably why Christmas shopping renders you feeling so narcotized and why a director’s movies often become more and much more awful together he it s okay richer and also richer (see: George Lucas, James Cameron, Tim Burton, etc.).

When my apartment building caught fire a couple of months ago, I had to conveniently assess what possessions warranted salvation if glass and also rubble rained down external my home window and human being ran approximately screaming and also smoke alarms shrieked in mine ears. ~ a moment’s consideration, I grabbed my computer, a readjust of clothes, a couple books, and also a snack cake, and threw lock in my bag. Then i looked roughly my room, which to be amazingly bare and also unfurnished, and I thought, Is this it? Is there really nothing else ns need? mine bag wasn’t even full, yet there just wasn’t. Such a strange and also cathartic feeling to watch my apartment structure on fire from throughout the street and realize every little thing left inside, nearly everything ns owned can be incinerated and I’d be fine v it.

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