How much stuff do you have?
It’s a weird word, isn’t it? Stuff. St-uff. Stufffffffff.
Say it. Say it out loud. Let the sound fill your mouth.
Do you have a lot? It’s sneaky, is stuff. It creeps up on you, accumulates, takes over, demands nothing from you but you can’t let it go.
Our world runs on stuff. Am I wrong?
I was taken out to accompany a friend shopping. Not recently, a while ago, and I had intended to write this up soon after, but that grey puddle of nothing took over as it is oft to do, and days became two weeks, and now I’m sat here on my fourth coffee saying the word stuff out loud. I’m not weird, I’m just sad, remember that.
I get taken out a lot. It’s like they know I have 186 days to go. Potentially. Still undecided. Still finding reasons to live.
I can’t remember the last time I went shopping-shopping. You know the kind, where you actively go into shops, browse, pick something up, ponder, put it down, walk out, and then regret that you didn’t buy it the day after. So I can’t remember if it was always that much-ful. Yes, much-ful. Full of much. What much? Too much.
There’s just so much choice. Have you never noticed that?
Which are shades of colours, because primary and secondary and even tertiary colours alone aren’t enough. There’s pastel, patterns, stripes, dots, zigzags, mesh, lace, fades, tie-dies, holes, stitching, faux-this, faux-that, patent, vegan, I could go on.
Which are never standardised, and simply must change with every shop and brand and department so you have no choice but to try it on in the overheating changing rooms, stare at yourself in this mirror, and wonder, have I always had that shape? Does my chin really look like that? And where did these eye bags come from? Is that a spot popping up? It better not be.
Which can be anything from flowery, artificial daffodils, lilies, roses, vanilla, bubble-gum, cake, lavender, woody, musky, balsamic ouds, parfum-for-her, and the adjectives they use to sell you these smells…I love adjectives as much as the next person and would love to be paid to use them, but how can one bottle confidence? How can a scent be fuelled by energies? How can a fragrance be born from a clash?
I am aware I’m reading too much into this, but I’ve always been a very literal person.
Footsteps, tip-tap-tap of heels, rustling of bags, general chitchat nonsense about this-and-that-but-never-anything-of-substance, announcements telling us to head up-down-left-right lest we miss out on that latest too-good-to-lose-deals, music, always too loud and always the wrong beat to create a soothing environment where you can think and choose, sales assistants who jump on you the moment you walk, who don’t realise that that kind of pressure actually puts people off because I’ve truly, really, never-have-I-ever met anyone who enjoyed being upsold items they didn’t need, and then there’s the beeping of tills, the air conditioning and heating units which hum.
I’ll tell you a secret that’s not really a secret at all, but most people forget. I’m deaf in my right ear. Sound warps in my left ear and when there’s too much of it, I can feel it inside my head like an angry fuzz of cottonwool and it can make me lose my balance and sense of place.
I’m of the persuasion that all this choice we’re presented with, isn’t a choice at all. We don’t need these things. We don’t need the latest jacket, or toy, or this candle, or that knickknack. We think we do. We convince ourselves that it’s cute, that it’ll look lovely on the mantlepiece, but actually we’re just buying into a system we’ve created for ourselves.
Literally, buying into. I told you I’m a literal person.
Because if we don’t buy into it, then there goes the sales assistant job, the store, the people behind the scenes, the drivers, shipping companies, the people on the other side of the world creating that product for you to choose and place on your table and then ignore.
Perhaps that’s why shopping is designed the way it is. It’s sensory overload, deliberately overwhelming you so you buy things in a state of confusion.
How much stuff have you possessed in your life? Where does it go once it’s no longer stuff you want?
Where does any of it go?
We don’t see that side.
The unwanted side. The landfill side. The rotting, seeping, oozing-into-the-ground, toxic side. The side where people pick through the scraps to find something, anything, that they themselves can sell on to afford food for the day, or perhaps a drink of clean water.
Well, who would want to buy that?
We’re cogs in the machine of stuff, moving the gears that grind the world down one piece of consumerist tat at a time.
I’ve done it again, haven’t I? I’ve overthought and ranted and put you off. This was my way to process what I’d been through, the immense and inordinate assault on the senses.
…but am I wrong?
Look at your stuff. It’s not really your stuff. It owns you.
Say it once more.
It’s nothing but mere accumulation.
📸Image: Loreburne Shopping Centre. Not the place I went to.