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Sunday, May 15, 2016

HAVING STUFF

HAVING STUFF
Another cranky re-run


Having stuff does not make you happy. Not having stuff that other people have makes you unhappy. The more people that have stuff that you do not have, the unhappier you will be. 
When I was a kid we didn’t have a lot of stuff. We didn’t have a color TV; we had no air conditioning, and we didn’t have a computer, laptop or otherwise. We didn’t have an i-pad, an i-pod, or Netflix. We did not have a CD player; we did not have a DVD player; hell, we didn’t even have a VCR, and yet we were happy. Why? Because no one else had any of this stuff either.


Our car (not plural) had roll-up windows and no air conditioning. It had brakes that had to be stomped on to stop and steering which took a two-hundred pound man to parallel park (note to Microsoft Word- parallel is not the name of a park and does not need to be capitalized). The clock was analog and did not work. The radio was AM only. Still, we were happy. Why? Because no one had a car with power windows or air conditioning; clocks were all analog and never worked in a car, no one had FM radio in the car, and power brakes and steering were still not invented.


We had one telephone. It was all black, it had a rotary dial, there was no call waiting, no caller ID and calls outside of your area code (wait, there was no area code either) calls outside your county were long distance and cost more. Cell phones were a Dick Tracy wrist radio pipe dream. GPS was Dad with a map. Even so we were happy. Why? Because one phone was enough, call waiting is annoying, you could hang up when you lost the nerve to ask a girl out and she would not know it was you, and we didn’t know anyone outside the county. Cell phones tie you down. Dad with a map was as good as any GPS and he never had to recalculate.


One July, in the mid-fifties, the Newman's, our neighbors to the left, got a window unit air conditioner for their den (family room today for you young people), and we were unhappy. Then my Dad got central air for our entire house, and the Newman's were unhappy. The Tully's, our neighbors to our right, got a blue princess touchtone phone for their kitchen. We were unhappy. Dad got a new princess phone, and a color TV. The Tully's were unhappy.


The Tully's countered with a power lawn mower, the Newman's got a car with power windows, brakes and steering. Dad got a new stereo and the neighbors' “high fidelity” systems were to be pitied.


Thus the battle of stuff goes on. No one is any happier for all the new stuff; everyone is actually less happy until they catch up in the battle of the stuff.


If there is any value at all in becoming a cranky old man, it is stuff becomes less and less important. You have some new stuff that I don’t? Cool, look at me I’m still above ground! You can watch any movie on a portable device at the touch of a button? What will they think of next? Hey, look at me; I’m fucking breathing! You can download any song in seconds and store thousands of them in a cigarette sized box. Wonderful. I can whistle any song I want for free! Your car has a sun roof, backup camera, i-pod deck, hands free cell speaker system, satellite radio and a drop down TV in the back for the kids? That’s fantastic, watch this: I can still get out of bed in the morning!


I don’t really need any more stuff. I am very happy with the stuff I have. The stuff I have is way more than any stuff I grew up with, and as far as I know, the Newman's or the Tully's don’t have any of this stuff.

22 comments:

  1. It didn't matter that there was only AM on the car radio. There were no FM stations to hear.

    There's way too much stuff around here.
    I probably only need less than a quarter of it.

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  2. completely agree with your each word ,enjoyed each word of your's
    what a coincident that today during the break time in school we teachers talked over same topic and one of them was saying that though her aunt is richer then them but lived in a brick house without a car but since they have made their home with marble and tiles they started to compete and now they are re building their house .

    Let me share with you that though by the time stuff is occupying the house but still inside me a person who wants to live without anything that is not necessary,increasing material is seems to burden on lungs i have to make effort to feel like earlier when my heart was light like a string which is free from all kind of artificiality and show off just enjoying being itself

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  3. So very true. Isn;t it sad that we have to get older in order to get so wise.

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  4. We grew up in the same era. I remember all this nonsense.

    People now seem to have free stuff. If they can't afford stuff they are supplied free stuff. You know like free phones, that the tax payers pay for.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  5. Sadly my in-laws always had to "one up" compared to people in their circle of friends or in the neighborhood. People next door to them got a bigger motor home than they did, so even though they really didn't need a bigger one, they got a bigger one. Sad.

    In my younger years I might have wanted what others had, but now I'm perfectly content with what I have and could even do with 90% less, but sigh, I married a musician.

    betty

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  6. I agree with you your life in growing up was similar the way mine was. I'm happy with what I have a least it's all paid for.

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  7. Amen to this! When younger it was all about having the new stuff, maybe not even so much to keep up, but because all that high-tech shiney stuff seemed pretty cool. But the older I get the more I wish things wouldn't change so much, and I am working hard to get rid of all that stuff I really use or need but one time thought I did. Give me health, enough wealth to pay the bills, and a good man to share it with and I am happy. The rest is just stuff, just as you say.

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  8. I loved George Carlin's distinction between stuff & shit; "Move YOUR shit so I can put MY stuff down!!"

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  9. Hi Cranky,

    Ha Ha! I LOVE new stuff. Mind you, I work with technology and it evolves all the time - I love that!

    Maybe when I am a cranky old man I might change my mind.

    ;o)

    Cheers

    PM

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  10. Well said Cranky. Funny, when I worked I wanted all the gadgets but since I retired, I am totally content with a cell phone that looks like a pager and only makes calls. Somehow I think if I were working now, I'd have a smart phone. I don't think it is financial. I think we bought more when working to justify the long hours laboring away.

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  11. Oh, God - I love this post! First for the nostalgia and also for the fact that I'm right there with you, Cranky. Any day I wake up, take a breath, and realize I have another moment or so to live makes me happier than any "thing" anyone else has.

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  12. Mostly i'm happy with my stuff, unless something breaks and i can't afford to get it fixed. Then i'm not unhappy other people have that item and theirs words, i'm just unhappy i can't get mine repaired.

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  13. I'm unhappy that you had this cool idea for your blog.....
    Just kidding. It was a hoot. Did I tell you I got a new Collins guitar?

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  14. I've learned over the years that more technology = more headaches. The less clutter makes me feel better as well.

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  15. I have a suspicion that the only way to avoid becoming a hoarder is to frequently move. Or at least pretend you're going to move. We've been in our current house long enough for STUFF to accumulate; I think it's time again to pretend we're moving.

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  16. The stuff I grew up with sounds like yours, and we were quite happy. I think whoever invented "walk-in closets" should be shot! Remember one of Murphy's corollaries..."the amount of junk you have is directly proportional to the amount of storage space you have.

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  17. I don't care what everyone else has. I have a new puppy.

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  18. Yes! We had a black (like everybody else) telephone, and were on a party line. Still happy! Although, honestly? The party line sucked. I don't care about any of this other stuff, but really glad to not be on a party line. Even if I like the neighbors here.

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  19. Great post, Cranky, and so, so true.

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  20. I'm at the point where I don't NEED more stuff, but I do WANT better, newer versions of some of the stuff I already have. like a TV with a bigger screen so I can see it better; it doesn't need to be wall-sized, just a couple of sizes up from the one I have.

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  21. Loved this post. Sadly, the days are long gone when there was no such things as TV, or phones, or anything else that complicates our lives. I think I'll send my iPhone back ... if I dare?

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  22. I almost bought a 3D television before realizing exactly 2 3D formatted movies existed at the time and one channel I didn't ever watch. To this day I have not purchased one. Thank goodness, because I'm too busy enjoying life to sit back and watch television.

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