Stuff – How More can be Less


Investing time around the table with old and new friends…priceless!

After almost 2 years in China, I’ve observed among several local friends that those with less stuff often appear to enjoy strong relationships with others.

Why might that be?  It is said “time” is the currency of friendship (or relationships).  Perhaps those with more stuff simply have less time.  One thing is for sure, many of our friends in this part of China seem to have a lot more time than we have observed elsewhere.  And, it’s also safe to say that most of them have a lot less stuff than we’re accustomed to.

Why would having more stuff mean having less time?  Here’s a short list of possibilities that might correlate with having more stuff:

  • Better job (sometimes with longer hours)
  • More bills to pay
  • More credit cards, bank accounts and investments to manage
  • More “stuff” to use (enjoy), clean, straighten, maintain, insure, organize, store, repair, upgrade, sell, give away, throw away…it all takes time
  • Yes, those who have more can (theoretically) hire others to handle many of these chores.  But think about it:  It also takes time to manage and pay those who are handling all the “stuff”!
  • Having more stuff can easily become a vicious cycle that is not easy to manage…in fact, managing it well can take…yep, you guessed it: Time!

Yes, I have a few friends back in the States who truly impress me with their ability to manage their “stuff” and also build strong relationships.  So, I’m not saying it can’t be done.

All I’m saying is the next time I think about buying more “stuff”, I intend to ask myself, “Who might enjoy a little more of my time instead of me shopping, and using, then maintaining, occasionally repairing, perhaps even insuring, then storing and finally getting rid of more stuff?!”

P.S.     Yes, these thoughts are undoubtedly influenced by the process of getting rid of all of our stuff here in China as we finish 2 years of language learning this summer!

Copyright © Kevin Beaty, YUNEV and “Feet on the Ground…”, 2016.  All rights reserved.

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