Stephen Mosher On Hoarding
It’s too much.
I have too much stuff.
I don’t know where I developed the habit of shopping but, at some point, I must have. And it repulses me. I am embarrassed and ashamed. I spent so much of my young life buying shit that wasn’t important, that didn’t matter, that now just clutters my home and causes me to dust. It’s frustrating and irritating and when I think of what that money would have meant to me, had I saved it, I want to hit something hard. Maybe me.
Shopping is a sickness. I know a lot of people with the malady. Was a time, I had it too. I am so happy it is gone now. I can’t even tell ya some of the garbage I bought over the years. I think that they plan it just right: hit you when you’re in college, have an itch to buy, get you to pile up on your credit card debt and leave you stuck with all that crap from Bradford Exchange and the Heritage people. Collectible plates, commemorative coins and stamps, faux Erte statues, phony movie and TV memorabilia. Just crap from the Skymall magazine, which is just like being in line at the supermarket – impulse buys galore. And then one day you’ve got so much worthless junk and all you do is spend your days wishing you didn’t have to dust so much and wondering if the walls really are closing in on you.
Over the years many people have made fun of me for having so much stuff. I say this often because it has come up in my life, often: I’m amazed by the things people will say right to your face, as if you don’t have any feelings. It hurt, embarrassed, sometimes humiliated me to have people make fun of me for the things I had in my home, things that gave me a great deal of pleasure, things over which I had a good deal of pride. Never mind that, two decades later, I had grown tired of those things and wanted to clear away the clutter and have more space – when the comments were made, the things in my personal collection were important to me.
Until the weren’t.
One day I was sitting in the living room and I just became so fed up with all the stuff, with the clutter, with my inability to see the walls or to walk through my home without having to veer right or left to keep from bumping into something. So I investigated Ebay. I found that I could unload all the stuff, line my pockets, pay some bills and de clutter. Then people gave me more stuff. It was an unending chain that I had to break. I began to discourage people from giving me gifts. On gift giving occasions I urged them to give me movie money because I love movies but they are a luxury I rarely allow myself. And the experience of going to the picture show did nothing to add to the detritus of my home. Now, years after starting my Ebay store, I have truly learned the joy of having no attachments to material possessions. Don’t get me wrong. There are some things I protect. My wedding rings. My cameras. The Rachels. A handful of tabletop tschokchkas, books, record albums, heirlooms. But most of my belongings are currently being sold off on the internet and in person. And I couldn’t be happier or more excited.
I recently had the occasion to be filling out a form that wanted to know what my assets were and what my debts are. Under assets I wrote “I have nothing” and under debts I answered “I owe nothing”.
I felt quite light and very, very free.