FI Question #19: My precioussssssss....

by Tom Robbins

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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FI Question #19: My precioussssssss....

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Jan 21, 2005 9:37 am

(Pg. 22) “Things. Cosas. Things attach themselves like leeches to the human soul, then they bleed out the sweetness and the music and the primordial joy of being unencumbered upon the land. Comprende? People feel tremendous pressure to settle down in some sort of permanent space and fill it up with stuff, but deep inside they resent those structures, and they’re scared to death of that stuff because they know it controls them and restricts their movements. That’s why they relish the boom-boom cinema. On a symbolic level, it annihilates their inanimate wardens and blows away the walls of their various traps.”

Do you think we resent the pressure to keep up with the Joneses or our desire to acquire more things? Do you think it impedes our freedom? Or is this just Switters or Robbins talking?
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Unread postby KYwoman » Fri Jan 21, 2005 10:30 am

Yes, in our cultures, as with others I'm sure, there is a desire to have what others have. To see the grass is greener on the other side. I am just as guilty as the next! I have a closet full of clothes and shoes I rarely wear and a basement full of junk! I get spurts and do a massive clean out, but it gets filled with new stuff. George Carlin had a bit he did on our obsessions with stuff that was very funny.

I think we are trapped, held down by all our possessions and there is some vicarious feeling we get by seeing it all blown to bits in film. We are definately a buy, consume and throw away society.

There can also be sadness to losing things however. There are some items that hold sentimental value to us where we would be devastated to lose it. It is the physcial representation of memory and feeling. That 'stuff' is worth holding on to. I cherish somethings that were passed down to me by family that could be perceived as junk/stuff to others.
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Unread postby lumineuse » Fri Jan 21, 2005 10:44 am

I definitely agree. KYWOman - I remember that rant of Goerge Carlin's and that's what I though of as well. It was the same message, and just hilarious. I've heard that theory about blowing things up before somewhere, too.

For me, stuff becomes a problem, and I think it does for many people as you get older. I have TOO much stuff, and I really want rid of it. But then you look at those jeans you haven't worn in 5 years, and think: they still fit - I can wear them to mow the lawn. And so you keep them, and eventually get overrun with all this stuff you neither want nor need. I've become more ruthless with age. And I have found a lot of joy in giving things away - like a nice bit of jewelry that no longer suits me. Things like that. I've also found that the more stuff you have the more "maintenance" you have to perform, and since I detest household maintenance almost as much as Switters detests personal maintenance, it's a really good incentive to divest myself of stuff. I do find myself feeling trapped by the maintenance. I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would want one of those huge homes. I look at them and all I see is housework! I'm a big proponent of less is more - I just need to get rid of the stuff I accumulated before I came to that conclusion!

Sorry for the ramble, and I'm not sure I really answered the question!
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Unread postby luvdepp » Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:09 pm

Boy, this question hit a nerve with me. I agree with KYwoman and lumineuse. Robbins said it perfectly.

Things attach themselves like leeches to the human soul, then they bleed out the sweetness and the music and the primordial joy of being unencumbered upon the land.

We fall into the trap of "needing" the latest stuff that's out there. The media and advertisers try and convince us that we need the latest and greatest and what we just purchased last week is obsolete. We're missing out if we don't get the new and improved version. My biggest peeve in my marriage is this exact issue. My DH is wonderful and I love him to pieces but he is the ultimate consumer. Getting a good deal on the latest electronic gadget is a hobby with him. :banghead: And he's the one who has the closets full of clothes. I think that part of the reason people spend so much time shopping and collecting stuff is stress related. I think shopoholics relieve stress by going to the mall and forgetting their problems. Unfortunately, it just creates more problems because you end up surrounded by the clutter and "s :censored: t" that you don't really need, not to mention all the money that's wasted. Speaking of blowing stuff up, I've got a garage full of stuff that I'd love to blow up. :grr:

Ok, I feel better now. Thanks for letting me rant. :blush:
"So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself, who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed." ~HST~

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Unread postby lumineuse » Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:25 pm

I feel your pain, luvdepp! There are days I'd just like to blow up my whole house and start over!
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Re: FI Question #19: My precioussssssss....

Unread postby Veronica » Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:51 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:(Pg. 22) “Things. Cosas. Things attach themselves like leeches to the human soul, then they bleed out the sweetness and the music and the primordial joy of being unencumbered upon the land. Comprende? People feel tremendous pressure to settle down in some sort of permanent space and fill it up with stuff, but deep inside they resent those structures, and they’re scared to death of that stuff because they know it controls them and restricts their movements. That’s why they relish the boom-boom cinema. On a symbolic level, it annihilates their inanimate wardens and blows away the walls of their various traps.”

Do you think we resent the pressure to keep with the Joneses or our desire to acquire more things? Do you think it impedes our freedom? Or is this just Switters or Robbins talking?


I myself do not desire to keep up with the Jones. Maybe because I can not afford to so its not even anything I think about. Maybe if I had money to do so I would be different. Does it trap us? Most definately! because it traps us into jobs that we may not necessary like but need to have to pay the bills. Yes we all need to work but if we lived simpiler lives we wouldnt need to make so much money to survive. Comprende? lol a lil Robbins humor there!
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Unread postby Gypsylee » Fri Jan 21, 2005 1:12 pm

I agree with everything that has been said. I used to live in Orange County, an expensive area to be sure. I had a nice house and lived in a nice neighborhood. The draw back, of course, was keeping up with the Jones's. There was a pressure to have the nicest yard, best interior decoration, and to keep the place looking brand spanking new. Major maintenance. The gossip was thick too if you did anything different. I moved out of there 7 years ago and am in an area where none of the above applies. It is a big weight off my shoulders. There is a peace.

I am reminded of the Native Americans here before this country was taken over by "civilized" white people. They lived off the land, used only what they needed and didn't waste anything. They could pick up and move an entire village at a moments notice. There must have been a real feeling of freedom living that way.
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Unread postby suec » Fri Jan 21, 2005 2:19 pm

This is an interesting follow up to the media thread! I feel no pressure to keep up with the Joneses. I guess I'm lucky that way. My particular weakness is just SPENDING! I love it. One time, I bought an entire new wardrobe of clothes: suits, shoes, tops, the lot. Even a new watch. It cost a fortune, which went entirely on "Mr Plastic" and I did it in 3 consecutive days flat. It was great fun and at the time, I would have recommended it to any woman. But not now. For one thing, It has to be paid for afterwards. For another, I soon settled down into wearing just the few favourites and the rest gathered dust in my wardrobe, until I got rid of it. I have also come to understand why I do it. The cheap fix can cheer me up when I need it. If I'm upset, I hit the shops. My dad always objects to my spending. However, it has finally, finally dawned on me that he spends money on experiences, and it is my spending on things that upsets him. So, nowadays, I would describe myself as a recovering shopaholic. Because there is no denying that is good to have some money to spend on more important life choices - things you want to do, rather than own.

There is a lot of clutter that we really don't need when it comes down to it. When I sold my house, and the house I was buying fell through, I ended up living with my mom for a while, with the vast majority of my belongings being inaccessible. The only thing I missed was my CD collection - although this was pre-Johnny).

Thinking back to the other thread, as well as this one, I think it is very significant that Switters loses so many of his material possessions. Earning power with his job; severance pay; his home; even his future prospects of worldly goods with the Matisse and cabin. He can let most of it go without a backward glance. And look what happens with the thing that does cost him emotionally: he gets to meet the original model. We get to see what really matters, I think.
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Jan 21, 2005 4:41 pm

suec wrote:Thinking back to the other thread, as well as this one, I think it is very significant that Switters loses so many of his material possessions. Earning power with his job; severance pay; his home; even his future prospects of worldly goods with the Matisse and cabin. He can let most of it go without a backward glance. And look what happens with the thing that does cost him emotionally: he gets to meet the original model. We get to see what really matters, I think.


:ohyes: Good point, SueC. Thanks for tying that together like that.

What was the question? Oh yes. I remember now. I have to say I have felt the pressure and I do resent it. I realize it is happening to me and feel frustrated because I can't keep up. I think I've lightened up as I've aged, though. I used to worry because my house wasn't furnished as nicely as my friends' houses or because my guest bathroom has been in a state of remodel for 13 years now. I've gotten over it, but that could be due to the fact that I got new furniture. :lol: The bathroom is just a joke now.

The pressure to keep up with the Joneses in my town is evident in the school parking lot--the number of SUV's. A few years ago it was like Stepford Cars--every other car was a Suburban.

It extends to other areas besides stuff, though--like my kids--their grades, their extracurricular activities, you name it. I feel the pressure to compete or conform there. I really resent that.

I do feel it impedes our freedom--our freedom to be individuals, to relax, to enjoy life. "People of zee wurl relax."
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Re: FI Question #19: My precioussssssss....

Unread postby Larkwoodgirl » Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:35 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:(Pg. 22) “Things. Cosas. Things attach themselves like leeches to the human soul, then they bleed out the sweetness and the music and the primordial joy of being unencumbered upon the land. Comprende? People feel tremendous pressure to settle down in some sort of permanent space and fill it up with stuff, but deep inside they resent those structures, and they’re scared to death of that stuff because they know it controls them and restricts their movements. That’s why they relish the boom-boom cinema. On a symbolic level, it annihilates their inanimate wardens and blows away the walls of their various traps.”

Do you think we resent the pressure to keep up with the Joneses or our desire to acquire more things? Do you think it impedes our freedom? Or is this just Switters or Robbins talking?


Robbins definitely give his opinion on this, but, to me it is a very broad generalization.

To me this quote implies something a little bit different. I personally do not resent my "permanent space" and the stuff that is in it. In no way do I find it controlling or restricting. My home is my sanctuary from the the world. I view it as a refuge and not as a trap. If I did not have a permanent space in which to seek refuge and peace, I think I would probably go mad. To me the world can be an overwhelming place from which retreat is often needed.

I understand the sentiment of the quote. We have all had the urge to just take off and go. I have done this on occasions in my life. However, afterward, I have always been happy and thankful to be able to return to my permanent space. I agree with Dorothy....there is no place like home.
""We shall never cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T.S. Eliot

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Unread postby lumineuse » Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:52 pm

Just as a note of possible interest:

I have a book (which I have not read yet - it's in the huge pile of other books I haven't read yet, but keep buying compulsively, and which I refuse to consider to be "stuff") called Somebodies and Nobodies. The premise of the book is that the last bastion of discriminition to be conquered, in the US at least, is "rankism". We discriminate against people we feel to be of no rank. And of course this is largely defined by outward accoutrements of success. The cult of celebrity in this country really exemplifies his theory. If we feel someone has no social rank or standing, they are discriminated against. And vice versa (didn't Paris Hilton come up recentLy?) On the surface, I think his point is valid, although I haven't read the book yet. It was recommended to me be a very kind soul, a recently reformed priest, who takes this kind of thing quite seriously. I thought maybe some of you might be interested.....
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Unread postby Veronica » Fri Jan 21, 2005 7:32 pm

lumineuse wrote:Just as a note of possible interest:

I have a book (which I have not read yet - it's in the huge pile of other books I haven't read yet, but keep buying compulsively, and which I refuse to consider to be "stuff")


:rotflmao: :rotflmao: :rotflmao: right there with you, sister! My names Veronica & I am a compulsive JDOCD book buyer! lol
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Re: FI Question #19: My precioussssssss....

Unread postby Liz » Fri Jan 21, 2005 8:07 pm

Larkwoodgirl wrote:To me this quote implies something a little bit different. I personally do not resent my "permanent space" and the stuff that is in it. In no way do I find it controlling or restricting. My home is my sanctuary from the the world. I view it as a refuge and not as a trap. If I did not have a permanent space in which to seek refuge and peace, I think I would probably go mad. To me the world can be an overwhelming place from which retreat is often needed.

I understand the sentiment of the quote. We have all had the urge to just take off and go. I have done this on occasions in my life. However, afterward, I have always been happy and thankful to be able to return to my permanent space. I agree with Dorothy....there is no place like home.


I agree with you, Larkwoodgirl. I enjoy my refuge, too. I'm comfortable here with my "stuff". On the other hand, some people can take it to the exreme, like my parents, who never wanted to leave their sanctuary. Thus they were prisoners of their own home. I don't think they looked at it that way, but I did. My father can't spend more than 2 nights away from his house--and that is even tough for him. I don't take it that far. I'd head off to Jamaica or France at a moment's notice, if I could. But I am very "attached" to sentimental stuff--like my hard drive (argggghhh), my photo albums, special clothes (mine and the kids), our artwork, and Johnny magazines. I'm a bit obsessive in this regard. :lol:
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Jan 21, 2005 8:10 pm

Great answers all around! I agree that we get bogged down by our stuff. Every once in a while I stop and think if I had five minutes to get anything out of my house or lose it what would I take. (I exclude living creatures from this test.) Number one on my list is always photographs and after that a few family trinkets. Mind you this does not keep me from accumulating more stuff! I have lived in several neighborhoods where the pressure to keep up the Jonses was pretty strong if you bought into what the Joneses were selling. I'm sure I have participated in some of it but the whole scenario has never been a big deal in my life.

suec wrote: Thinking back to the other thread, as well as this one, I think it is very significant that Switters loses so many of his material possessions. Earning power with his job; severance pay; his home; even his future prospects of worldly goods with the Matisse and cabin. He can let most of it go without a backward glance. And look what happens with the thing that does cost him emotionally: he gets to meet the original model. We get to see what really matters, I think._________________


Wonderful point! You never know what you will gain by letting go...

larkwoodgirl wrote: I understand the sentiment of the quote. We have all had the urge to just take off and go. I have done this on occasions in my life. However, afterward, I have always been happy and thankful to be able to return to my permanent space. I agree with Dorothy....there is no place like home.


Another thing to be grateful for indeed. :cloud9:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby deppdreamer » Fri Jan 21, 2005 8:23 pm

This reminds me of what my husband always says. "How come, according to you, your stuff is stuff and my stuff is junk?"

I am not a thing person, hate clutter and and can easily toss out unused items. I decided pretty early on not to be attached to things. I had a set of lovely crystal wine glasses. One glass accidently broke and I cried & cried about it. When I got over it I realized how stupid that was to cry over a glass, an inanimate object. Since then, I have tried to not hold too much importance to items in my life. Would rather spend money on doing something, going somewhere, experiencing. I have always said I could live as a monk as far as possessions are concerned.


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