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Article stuff

Published on February 25th, 2013 | by Dan Walsh

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Paul Graham on Stuff

Stuff weighs us down, metaphorically and literally. I brought way too much stuff with me when I went to Thailand a few years ago. It was my first time on an extended international trip, and I, with my childhood Boy Scout’s training, wanted to be prepared. Stuff is heavy – especially when it’s strapped to your back. By the end of my trip I had discarded pounds of my possessions, and even changed my grooming habits so that I wouldn’t have to keep items required by those habits. Goodbye razor, hello beard!

When I read Stuff, by Paul Graham, it was like he reached into my mind and fully articulated everything that I learned in those whiskey and curry drenched months in Thailand. He too learned the lesson while backpacking abroad.

“I first realized the worthlessness of stuff when I lived in Italy for a year. All I took with me was one large backpack of stuff. The rest of my stuff I left in my landlady’s attic back in the US. And you know what? All I missed were some of the books. By the end of the year I couldn’t even remember what else I had stored in that attic.”

I’m speaking from experience when I say that this lesson is all too easy to forget. As I’m writing this, I’m looking around at my cluttered apartment and wondering how it got so messy again when I just cleaned everything up. The best remedy isn’t a better closet organizational system, it’s simply to have less stuff that requires organization in the first place. Fortunately, Graham presents a useful way to protect yourself from accumulating too much stuff: ask yourself, “is this going to make my life noticeably better?”

Read: Stuff, by Paul Graham

Image courtesy of charleylhasa


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