Like most New Zealanders I really really hate shifting house. Packing, moving, taping, scrubbing, unpacking. It sucks. It's particularly painful when you're forced to move a friend. Even worse when you're supposed to be on holiday at the time. Like I was last week.
During the shift I couldn't help but notice what a massive amount of crap she had. Literally thousands of possessions, most of which should have been taken to the dump years ago.
It's depressing to see a friend weighed down with rubbish. Like Jennifer Connelly in the Junk Fields near the end of Labyrinth.
I have another friend who was a drug addict for many years. He had nothing. Just a mattress in the corner of his horrible little room. No lamps, posters, drawers or sheets. Not even a cover on his duvet.
There were a lot of issues in his life. But moving him from house to house was never a chore. I could fit all his stuff in the back of my Mitsi Mirage.
There's a hugely successful book called The Japanese Art of Decluttering Your World: Understanding the Ancient Principles of Minimalism. A better one would be: Live like a junkie and free yourself from your possessions.
Of course In the end he overshot the mark and decluttered himself of his house, business, marriage, friends and family.
While most of us don't have or want drug problems we are still shocking addicts. Buying stupid things to fill emotional holes in our life. Things that will never fill those holes. All we are really doing is torturing our future shifting selves and potentially our friends.
As Jerry Seinfeld said at his recent Spark Arena appearance. "All things on Earth only exist in different stages of becoming garbage… your home is a garbage processing centre… I wish there was a store where I could buy something, pivot and just throw it down a shoot into an incinerator, walk out with no bags - perfect shopping experience."
Everyone knows they don't need most of the things they own. So If you don't need them why are you buying them and then storing and moving them around with you.
In Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind (the book nearly everyone read over the break) Yuval Noah Harari points out, "We hardly notice how ubiquitous our stuff is until we have to move it to a new house. Hunters and gatherers moved house every month, every week, and sometimes even every day, toting whatever they had on their backs… They consequently had to make do with only the most essential possessions. It's reasonable to presume, then, that the greater part of their mental, religious and emotional lives was conducted without the help of artefacts."
We could learn a few things from our ancestors. Live every day like you are moving out tomorrow. Next time you're buying a singing reindeer head for your wall — don't .
Also throw out Sapiens after you have read it. There is nothing more pointless than carrying around a bunch of books you have already read.
I'm not suggesting you become a Buddhist monk. Too boring. It's good to have and love some things. Phones are great. All the knowledge, art, music and adult entertainment right there in your back pocket.
You could whip yours out right now and watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on your Netflix app. A movie that celebrates people with next to no stuff. A backpack, toothbrush, jeans, T-shirt, a couple pairs of nicks, some socks, credit card and maybe a bed. They are so happy. Smug and annoying but happy.
The point is you have too much stuff. Decluttering isn't enough. You need to get rid of most of it.
Spend your time between moves chucking your crap out. Not buying more. If you chuck a couple of things out every day and don't replace them you'll logically have less useless stuff to move. You will be happier and wealthier.
But do it properly. Don't take your crap out to the garage, don't pay for storage. Hiff it out. Take it to the dump. Hiff it over the fence into the neighbour's yard. Whatever it takes just get rid of it.
But most important of all, no matter how little stuff is involved, friends don't ask friends to help them move.