[Moving Zeal] Attachment to Hoarding

My meditation in a Buddhist temple was interrupted by an inner voice screaming at me to declutter. I am now, years later, facing the mental anguish over decluttering. The physical process is easy, but learning the mental fortitude to detach myself, even somewhat, from frivolous material possession is overwhelming. I must control my hoarding addiction. I’ll still buy and use things, but rather than let them control me, I must learn illusionary control over materialism.

Why is this process so taxing?

I did not move a single object the day I wrote this. It was a day full of terrible depression. I could not muster the energy to do anything more than what was absolutely required of me, but why?

Do objects inherently make us happy?

Is the process of disturbing the resting places of these hoarded objects disturbing to their inner spirits, if they have them? Do I act with too much callousness toward these hoarding spirits?

I am unlearning and reaching a different state.

I played objects where they were because, in that mind, that was where they should go. There was an internal logic to their order, even though externally, the logic was chaotic and terrible.

It’s mentally taxing to unlearn hoarding.

You have to constantly tell yourself that certain objects should be grouped together, reduced, and decide which of these objects truly matter to you. This is a mentally taxing process.

It would be easier to box and go.

However, I have enough time that even “the day” I publish this, I’ll still be ahead in the moving process. The more I mentally prepare myself to declutter, the easier the process becomes.

It’s just a matter of not overdoing it.

I asked the monk, while we were doing landscaping, about the morals of cutting down plants. His reply was much the same, paraphrased as: “just do what is necessary. Don’t overdo it.[1]”

This move has been tough.

When this essay publishes, I may already be in the process of deciding what town I live in, and how many bedrooms I may need to rent for a year or more as part of the moving process.

Why do all of this?

I still have too much of an attachment to physical objects. I should be less concerned over the chair I sit in, the keyboard I type with, the computer I use, and the objects surrounding me.

They should just exist.

This move has been antithetical to my current path: I’ve done less writing in areas I want to do, and have ventured out less than what I want, which should tell me that this isn’t the right path.

What path is correct?

We must take breaks to assess the problem areas in our lives, to purge ourselves of the objects, thoughts, memories, and goals that won’t enable progressive treading. Half-completed projects?

Complete them or recycle them.

The more clutter I remove from my path, the faster the process will become, so I need to use this time to learn how to remove the weightiest shackles first. Tools that burden must go away.

The eventual goal is positive.

The current me that is writing this must evolve into ways that will better serve the writing, and more so, the self that writes this. I must learn to become healthier: physically and mentally.

I’ve been working on the physicality.

I could push myself to excess in the exercising process, but I’m not. I briefly considered the idea of pressing on ahead this evening, to continue not just writing but to thrash through clutter.

No. My mental state is still taxed.

This writing process is necessary to dig deep into where that inner pain is, to bring it out, and to say that the clutter isn’t such a bad thing. I’m not a bad person for having purchased all this.

It’s just a matter of fixing it now.

I’ve made significant process in the past month. When this essay publishes, the process should be double, if not triple. Eventually, there should be only bare walls and enough space to write.

Then, that too must go.

This is a painful process because I was irresponsible in my excess and now must learn to detach from that. Any new object purchased must have a purpose that cannot be fulfilled by another.

How far will I go with this?

While I do like the idea of becoming a world-trotting writer, finding myself where ever the work is most promising, I do still care for many of my material possessions. Some are even irreplaceable.

Most, however, are not.

The photograph, much like that imaginary scream, contains objects that when darkened mean little to nothing or mean everything. It’s what we choose to attach to these objects that matter.

Why was this so depressing?

Why should it matter if I have zero or twenty or fifty boxes of objects I value? Why should I be concerned that my most valuable objects to exist in one location while I’m in another location?

That’s what happens whenever you leave home.

Maybe it’s perpetuating a lie to myself that I care about all this stuff. Who am I lying to? The cashier, the producer of say a movie I own, or, the collective out there that want to know my opinions?

These are all external aesthetics.

Why do I care about what I own? Movies existing in front of me could be swapped out with duplicates and I wouldn’t mind. Most of these movies I won’t watch, as my current ego, for another year.

Maybe I’m searching for well-roundedness?

The idea that I could go to the store, find a random object like a movie, book, or action figure, and interact with it fully satisfactorily, and learned some lessons from it? To better myself?

Or is it to find a deeper sense of myself?

Growing up, I wanted a plethora of stuff. Grown up, I have a plethora of stuff. Growing up, I wanted to be happy. Grown up, I want to be happy, still. I’ve changed, sure, but yet I haven’t changed.

I think of hoarding as a spectrum.

I exist somewhere between the traveler with nothing and the hoarder with everything. We all do. Our places on this spectrum should reflect where we want to go in life and what we want.

My suitcase tells stories of its adventures.

When I retire it, what will it become? I don’t retire shoes. I throw them out. I still have some hesitancy over throwing out some objects because they still have some value to me. Less than before.

Before this process, everything had value.

Perhaps I’ve been depressed over the last few days because this sense of destroying objects that could have had value to me has crept in, planting insidious thoughts of destroying destinies.

No. That’s a weird martyrdom thought process.

I used to “save” items at thrift stores by purchasing them. Now some of them go back to thrift stores. I thought of all the thousands of pounds of donations that didn’t sell: they were destroyed.

I didn’t want that for myself.

Why have I displaced this much empathy away from things that matter into things that don’t? The cardboard that vaguely looked like a mask, once, shouldn’t weigh me down as it does.

It was just a fun project idea!

Perhaps this is why the idea of ownership over objects is such a sin? First, you have to worry about acquiring the object, then you have to worry about it not getting stolen or destroyed, then…

This writing has been helpful.

Tomorrow, I will continue my detachment decluttering process. When it gets to be too taxing, I will remember that everything in this life is temporary and we’re at the mercy of chance.

All materialism depended on chance.

To know about this website, someone or something had to inform you of its existence. To have read this far into this essay, first, thanks, and second, was by pure chance. I could be sleeping.

I had intended to sleep earlier.

Instead, after writing “Decisiveness in Moving,” I still hadn’t quite felt that sense of relief that happens after writing a particularly meaningful essay. I felt relieved, but not entirely ready.

Just as I’m not ready to stop writing now.

Major Motoko Kusanagi: You talk about redefining my identity. I want a guarantee that I can still be myself.

Puppet Master: There isn’t one. Why would you wish to? All things change in a dynamic environment. Your effort to remain what you are is what limits you.

Let me continue this sharp turn with a thought that punctuates this quote that’s been running through my head throughout this moving process: When I started this website, I never would have thought I’d be moving, and I just compulsively bought things perhaps as a way to mask the pain I had within over either never having enough social status as I grew up or enough of a sense of ownership over my own autonomy. I was always beholden to my relationship with things. I could buy certain things, but not others. It all felt so restricting.

Then, I could buy anything I wanted.

So I did. I bought all sorts of frivolous items. Iconography for things I didn’t care about. I would have continued down this path of hoarding until something else eventually broke. There is no easy way to fix this mentality. It’s not like I could, one day, think “I should either complete this project or recycle its components.” Not with that level of addiction I had to the physical and material world where I would, seemingly daily, go out and explore more of the world but take more and more mementos from it. Return it and place it somewhere to be shoddily displayed, not quite proudly and not quite honorably, only to have that display overrun by tomorrow’s mementos.

Why did I keep doing that?

Why do I keep concerning myself over the value of these objects? At the onset of this process, I already decided not to concern myself with the sellable value of any of it. If I were careful with my donation process, I could earn at most a few dollars? I’m keeping a sell pile for the next residence. Once my housing is stable again, I’d like to go through with more effort the objects I’ve hoarded into packing boxes and am hoarding into storage, and really go through the psychological process of de-hoarding these objects that have cluttered my mind and my space.

I don’t want to go completely objectless in this life.

There are too many things that have brought my sublime or overwhelming joy for me to take such a stark path, at least, not yet. Maybe eventually I’ll have reduced the nonessentials down to carry them all with me in a car? For now, though, in the direction I see myself going with my current ego, the future that I can see myself attaining if I don’t remain in this hoarding situation, I can still own things and be happy with their proximity to me. I can still keep the silly little things that give me a little bit of joy along with the deeply meaningful objects that would be tragic if they were destroyed or lost.

That must have been what went so wrong.

That anti-hoarding voice screaming at me in that silent hall must have known that when we hoard, all objects become equally valuable. The stupid cardboard thing becomes just as valuable as the $100 item. Instead, we should act in ways where the $100 item is displayed as we want it to be: if it’s some amazing action figure, then certainly it’s the centerpiece for its collection. If it’s an art-piece, hang it prominently.

The mental process of assessing my mess is challenging:

  1. Look at every object.
  2. Decide its value.
  3. If any: keep
  4. If none: could it be resold at a profit?
  5. If none: detach
Quotes: [1] It was nice talking with this monk. I forget his name and I drifted away from this temple, but it was nice to briefly consider a home for my spiritual questings.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: During a Pokemon Nuzlocke by patreon.com/bensaint of the Pro Crastinators Podcast, he mentioned the Buddhist concept of attachment and this essay’s concept materialized. I also feel better about this moving process now, or at least, temporarily now. Until my next writing…
Related: Other Moving Zeal essays.
Photo: My cluttered kitchen table.
Written On: December 7th [1 hour?]
Last Edited: First draft; final draft.
My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)