All the Stuff

Create a lot of content and see what sticks.

I heard this snippet of advice today. It was referring to the practice of creating a continuous stream of content for the web in hopes of developing a social media following and, subsequently, a loyal fan-base. Generally speaking, the method makes sense — of course, the more content we make available on the web, the more likely it is for customers to find us. The caveat here, though, is that this content must actually be worthwhile in order to turn curious, one-time page visitors into avid subscribers.

Oftentimes, though, when we set out to fulfill the goal of a continuous content stream, we use all of our energy to generate as many posts as possible, but leave no time to polish and perfect any one of them. We sacrifice quality for quantity and end up with a plethora of subpar posts and no outstanding ones. In essence, we create a lot of stuff, but nothing meaningful or memorable.

A lot of stuff, but nothing meaningful or memorable — ironically, it's a notion that's been at the forefront of my mind for the past few days. It all started this past weekend when I walked into my bedroom and was immediately overwhelmed with stuff ... of the material kind. I'm sure most of it held meaning and memory at one point or another. But, as I took inventory of the belongings around me, I felt that a lot of it just didn't anymore.

Like a multitude of anticlimactic blog posts, I had been holding on to every trinket given to me by every elementary school best friend, every article of clothing that I could still zip up, every sketch from every college design project, and every hard copy of every high school composition paper. Nevertheless, just as a content writer should invest themselves fully into crafting one, single, amazing post that will put a smile on someone's face and gain a loyal follower, I should have been treasuring only the things that still made me happy.

The hand-painted, antique memento box given to me by a family friend? Yep, that could stay! The 25 unfortunately designed t-shirts given away at college pep-rallies? That would be a no. The pair of jeans that make me feel amazing? They'd be in! The slouchy, hand-me-down sweater that makes me look 20 years older? That could go.

At first, the admission that I simply didn't love some of my stuff anymore and should probably let it go made me feel guilty. But, I soon realized that these pieces that once meant so much to me, had been reduced to stacks of clutter inhibiting my ability to move freely about my room and that didn't seem fair to me or my once beloved stuff. I mean, our belongings, as Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo conveys in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, are supposed to "spark joy," not cause anxiety, right?

The idea of our physical stuff being meaningful and memorable enough to spark joy within us is quite beautiful in itself, but I wonder if this philosophy can be applied to areas of our lives besides material clutter alone. For example, instead of religiously checking all 80 blogs in our blogrolls each night, maybe we fully invest ourselves in perusing 5 of our absolute favorites. Or, perhaps, instead of flipping through the channels in our free time and watching everything that happens to strike our fancy, we pick one series that we've been meaning to watch and devour it from beginning to end. Possibly, we focus on those few, sweet things that spark joy in our lives, leaving any excess room only to savor them more completely, not to fill with clutter — material or otherwise.