I have no need for a kitchen table. The majority of my eating is done:
- From the coffee table while sitting on the couch
- From the coffee table while sitting on the floor in front of the couch, because couches are difficult
- While staring absentmindedly at my reflection in the mirror over my kitchen sink
- From the side of my desk as I try to avoid getting crumbs on my laptop while browsing the internet which I could just as easily do in five minutes once my dinner is done but that’s five whole minutes and it’s so long from now
And four chairs? I have no need for four kitchen table chairs. You know why the table or those chairs exist in my home? For other people. For the once in a while occasion where other people come over and expect somewhere to sit that doesn’t involve pretending they’re in an opium den with no opium. Because society, man. Society.
I looked around the apartment and realized that probably three quarters of my belongings have no reason for existing most of the time. I’m one guy – I don’t need a couch and two chairs and a footrest and a beanbag ottoman. You know what the ottoman gets used for the most? Holding the spare PS3 controller while it’s charging.
Very little of what I own is actually for me. It’s for other people. Chairs for other people to sit on. A tiny little overburdened window-mounted air conditioner so other people don’t die of heatstroke when they walk into my tropical apartment in the summer. Blankets so other people don’t lose appendages to frostbite when they walk into my meatlocker of an apartment in the winter.
There are three different sets of plates in my kitchen cabinets. Three. Different. Sets. Know how many I use? One. One set. One set of four identical black plates. Why are the others there? For when other people come over to eat and don’t want to share plates. The nerve of some people.
I could easily get rid of about half of my stuff and move into a cardboard box but it gets cold here and it’s hard to get a permit to install a proper furnace in those. So instead of adopting a
transient nomadic lifestyle, it’s time to start stripping some of this stuff out of my life.
Because it’s just stuff.
Stuff I don’t need. Stuff that exists for no reason other than that other people may occasionally use it. And that’s a terrible reason to own things. Fortunately I’ve always had a pretty strong ability to avoid buying stuff just because I want it – if I don’t need it and it’s not a particularly emotionally compelling work of art, it’s staying on the shelf.
There’s a difference between being able to have something, and needing to have something. It’s important to know the difference. Otherwise you just end up owning things for other people, and those things end up owning you.