Opinion: What’s up with all our stuff?


Recently, newspapers reported the overdose of a 25-year-old film star. He often portrayed a drug user, and it appears that art imitated life. We all invite others, who we will never meet or get to know, into our lives. We learn about them, what they think and how they dress. Whether actor, politician, musician or other, we ride along with them as if we are friends, even feeling great loss at their passing.

When gone, the times that we might have seen them in concert or attended the opening night of their masterwork become the stuff of folklore. Many remember the moment with far greater detail than our own graduations, weddings or the arrival of children! Tony Bennett on the apron of the Palladium singing acapella, the return of Def Leppard’s drummer after losing an arm in an automobile accident, meeting Darth Vader at the opening of “Star Wars,” or maybe witnessing comedian George Carlin at Caesars in Las Vegas with eviscerating observations about Americans and our stuff, such as,”Everybody’s got to have a little place for their stuff. That’s all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff,” sticks with us.

In the five-minute YouTube Carlin “stuff” clip, he makes a point that is even more poignant today. We have stuff in our garage. We have stuff in our inboxes. We have calendars packed with stuff. We are stuffed with stuff. We might wonder, are we hedging our bets that there might be a catastrophe or reassuring our insecure selves that we matter because of how overwhelmed we are? Is the memory of Carlin just another bit of stuff? Does our stuff define us anymore than the lack thereof would? If life ended today, what would happen to all our stuff? Would it matter that much?