Remember George Carlin’s classic bit on Stuff?

My generation loved it. We thought it was deep. Maybe it’s my dotage showing, but lately I’ve come to think it’s not deep at all. It’s just a cranky guy riffing on a word.

Stuff. It’s a great word that covers a multitude of blessings.
Know your stuff
Do a lot of stuff;
Your morals, your values, that type of stuff.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on…

But I want to get back to what Carlin seemed to complain about. It might be just plain stuff, but when it’s our stuff, it’s important stuff.

I’m going to have to move in the next 2 or 3 years, which means I’m going to be packing up my stuff. Take a look at my desk. What’s not important here?


Bag o’ basketball grapes
Artificial tears, eye unguent, Xmas stocking mints – never can tell
Pieces of desktop Nessie – sentimental value, really should set it up again
Crow paperweight – well, they are crows
Flashlight, change jar, rose paperweight, rubber bottle top opener
The yellow tape measure should go back in the tool box
Reading material
Medications and supplements – doctor prescribed or suggested
Tea mug
Water bottle
Juice glass
Wine glass – ½ glass wine before bedtime. Honest.
Shelves of important paper stuff
Plate and fork for eating cold congealed stuff in front of the computer
Health food detritus: I’ll get it in the compost pile in a minute or three
Land line
Cell phone
Pen, calculator, magnifying glass
Foot fan with heater
Waste basket
All the shoes I currently own available for all three moods
Socks to match – or not
And I think that’s the sound thingamajig way back against the wall.

So yeah, George, that’s a lot of stuff. And you should see the rest of the house. NOT. Some of it will move with me. And some of it will simply be replaced with similar stuff. And it’s all stuff I like and use and need and enjoy.

Here’s the thing about stuff. About material possessions, to use a more elegant phrase. Those things that so many of a certain lifestyle are so certain that we could all do with less of. Or without. And I’m certain that we could, if we had to. But like I started to say, here’s the thing:

You know all those refugees fleeing the war that has destroyed their homes? All those thousands of people pouring through the borders of the European Union? Those people don’t have much stuff. They had to leave most of their stuff behind. They didn’t want to. They aren’t downsizing for a simpler way of living. They are hoping against hope that they will find new homes. That they will have more stuff. Stuff that they like and use and need and enjoy. All the infinite variety of things that make up the stuff of life.

Three pairs of shoes, clean socks, a banana from the corner market, their medications, a nice cup, something to read before bedtime, tissues to wipe their tears.

So don’t mess with my stuff. Don’t lecture me about it. I just wish I could reach out to someone in that long, tired line and give her this bag of grapes. It’s good stuff.