Why I Have Too Much Stuff
Having It vs. Using It
“I will have it,” he said, after I asked
what he would do with it.
Propped against the stop sign, the piece of wood was no ordinary stick. It was about three feet high and had artful twisted shapes. No mere stick, it called out, “Take me. I’m cool.”
It was cool. We noticed and we wanted. It was there for the taking on that undeveloped street—or not. I turned right at the stop sign and asked, “Do you want it?”
“Yes,” he answered, “but maybe not enough to turn around and get it.”
“What will you do with it?”
“I will have it,” he said.
If we were in a comic strip, a light bulb would be shining in the bubble over my head. “Ah. There it is, the having versus the needing or using.”
I have too much stuff. The problem is that I have it. I don’t need it and often, I don’t use it. I simply have it.
I have some rose-scented dishwashing liquid. I bought it because I had to have it. Rose scents beguile and beckon me like The Odyssey’s sirens.
That rose-scented dishwashing liquid sits on my sink. It’s barely been used. Why? Because I want to have it. I tried using it to wash mere dishes, but it seemed wasteful when I pumped out the precious fluid to clean a dog food bowl or a grease-encrusted pot—kind of like casting pearls before swine. Dirty dishes are not swine, however; they are just dishes. When I consider it, that near-full bottle of soap is just soap, rose scent aside.
I know it’s just soap and I know it has a purpose and that purpose is not to take up space in my kitchen, in my psyche, in my life.
But I want to have it, even while knowing that having it is pointless if I don’t use it. It’s not a Van Gogh or priceless piece of artwork that has worth simply because it is. It’s not precious stones. It’s soap. It is for washing.
I want to use it for washing, just maybe not washing dog food bowls or empty cat food cans before they are placed in the recycling bin.
Having something like soap is use-less if it isn’t used. I know this. I know this about all the stuff I have that I don’t use.
My challenge to myself is to use the rose-scented soap. Maybe I don’t have to use it for the cup with a crusty coffee ring in the bottom. Maybe I don’t have to use it for the bowl I removed from the fridge that held too-old leftovers. Maybe I can put it in a place where the scent will linger and will remind me of the gift inherent in the soap—the scent. My challenge is to use it well rather than have it. I do need soap, so it is use-less if it sits on a sink so I can just have it.