I had a friend over last night who had never been to my place before, and he remarked (as several have before him) on the lack of art (or anything) on the walls. I moved into my apartment about 9 months ago, and I plan on being here a very long time. As such, I am in no particular hurry to “finish” the space (a strange idea anyway, as when is anything ever finished?). I have happily taken my time picking out the right table, sofa, etc, only getting them when I feel right about it. It would also be true to say that with limited funds I rather need to be slow and methodical about purchasing things anyway. I don’t have thousands of extra dollars sitting around waiting to be spent on various furniture and nicknacks to fill my apartment, and even if I did I would be extremely cautious about any new thing I acquired. While I admit that my tastes are not in the norm, I am always a little perplexed as to why people find this unnerving. The thing they seem to have a hard time grappling with is how emptiness and simplicity are calming to me. To me, most people are rather like hoarders, and I get the sense that they are unconvinced of their own existence in the absence of a wide variety of things to reflect and prove it. When I left on my world trip a few years back, I quite literally got rid of everything I owned. My friend from last night seemed incredulous, expecting that I would have put a bunch of things in storage for later.
“To what end?”, I asked.
For me, it seems clear that being so tied to so much stuff is poison to the soul. The more we own (and the more we fetishize those things), the more we are bound to them, and to taking care of them, and to our craving for them. Our stuff owns us as much as we own it. To me, an empty space is calming, tranquil, full of possibility, yet already complete. There is no place to get to, we are already there. Being attached to the archiving of my past in the form of (seemingly) solid things, and putting it on display (with some ostentation) is simply not my cup of tea.