Abundance isn’t about having a surfeit of stuff

I’m baaaackk!

I’ve spent a lot of forced time in bed these last two months (bad back), leading to lots of introspection and self-criticism regarding how I live and how I could live better — that is, to become a better person. I’ve become a female Falstaff, fat and lazy.

I know, as you do, that habits create the quality of our lives, and my habits are often destructive (eating pie) and have no good purpose. When in doubt, I go shopping, if not to Marie Callender’s. My fridge is full, my pantry is jammed full, my closets bulge, my drawers won’t close, stuff is even stored under the bed. And still I shop until I drop.

Back in the day, I was too busy keeping house, taking care of the boys, running the PTA, to do shopping except for groceries and maybe the top of seasons. Every fall I bought new Levi’s to live in, with a coordinated shirt, so last year’s jeans became “painting” clothes. The budget was tight as were all my girlfriends’, new house, small kids, lots of social life. I had half a sliding mirrored door closet for all my clothes, plenty of room for what I had.

Now, staying in bed, I’ve also watched lots of television and old movies, stirring up old memories and daydreams. But many daydreams came true and became great memories, as I’ve mentioned to you before.

Have you ever watched a “Hoarders” show? I can’t anymore, having realized I’m closer to that than I want to think about. I can never find anything to wear because I have so many clothes and shoes, I can’t choose. Who could decide? Not me.

It’s normal for me to try on at least three outfits before I decide what’s appropriate and harmonious. It’s two walk-in closets full, built-in shelves to the ceiling, a hall closet full of coats/jackets and drawers full of undies, nightgowns, cashmere sweaters, silk scarves, warm-up sets and shoes, shoes, shoes. And bags, bags, bags. And guilt, guilt, guilt. “What about the starving children in China?” Did your mother lay that one on you too?

One of my closets has a 5-foot section that’s all formal wear. I’ll wear two or three of them over the holidays, threaten to get rid of the ones I didn’t wear, then go through the what-if game and keep them all.

Thinking about this, I pace back and forth in front of my triple dresser, which changes the subject to which perfume is right. Yep. Another obsession. My dresser top is covered with 50-60 regular bottles of Eau de Toilette and several bottles of actual perfume, including most of the really expensive ones. And spice shelves hold 60 miniatures on the wall. I’m blushing just reading this. There are real problems in the world, you know. But have you ever overheard fly-fishermen discuss tying their own flies? Same nuances of opinion.

Humans, male and female, must constantly occupy their minds. Many men are avid book collectors as I am. Actually, I’m no “collector.” I just can’t ever throw away a book. Or even a magazine. I especially enjoy Bon Appetit. No, fellows, that is not porn.

I adore Victorian teacups with saucers. Last time I counted, it was about 20 sets, six or so with matching cake plates, in my old-fashioned Drexel Bonnet-hood china cabinet. Also, I have uncountable silver-plate and crystal serving pieces, even an oval cut-crystal celery dish, a gift of my late beloved former mother-in-law, Rose. We used to all collect that stuff.

I am so pretentious that I cover my walls with gilt/gold leaf-carved baroque framed artwork, some of it real (as opposed to prints). I love my Irving Amen signed and numbered lithographs. I own six. Two are artist proofs. And my Japanese wood-block prints, bought in Kyoto in 1965, are still treasured. I love my oil paintings of Texas Bluebonnets, originals.

I wrote up to here yesterday, then tossed and turned all night trying to think of a smart “so what.” My conclusion is that there is none. Abundance isn’t about having a surfeit of stuff. It’s about having what you need and want or the ability to get it. Or the real and secure knowledge that you could happily do without all of that stuff. In fact, taking care of it is a nuisance. So, discretion may indeed be the better part of valor, dear Falstaff, but I’d rather be blunt, tell the truth and get a good laugh.

Dear me, how profound.

Betty Bunch is a former dancer. Today, she works with the national Elderhostel Association. Contact her at bettybunch100@gmail.com.

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