This guest post and paintings are the work of Leslie Escoto, host of Tell a Story Online

I have given in to that enticing voice of materialism many times. I have had the wants, the I-gotta-have-it, the Let-me-at-it, the It-is-all-about-stuff. Just come look at my home and you immediately can see that I’ve been there and my world is very stuffy. I have treasures, and heirlooms, and art, and music, and books, books, books and of course the proverbial junk… but good junk… important junk… the “I might need that some day junk.” My stuff are my old friends…they sit with me, never saying a word, but always eager to give me comfort when I need it. My big, puffy, reading chair upholstered in a Parisian street scene cuddles me when I am lost in another world seen through the eyes of a good writer. My angel collection, secreted in a curio cabinet, but always watching over me and helping me through the dark times. My hand me down piano, sitting quietly but always reminding me of history and of those who have passed before me.

I love my stuff. I have always loved my stuff and I have actually, believe it or not, gathered more stuff as I have traveled my life journey. Memories of family, of friends, of times, of travels, of adventures, of history, of those incredibly special moments in one’s life that are to be treasured and kept forever, and having something material helps keep these memories alive. I always have had more than enough stuff to provide memories but it seemed enough was never enough and my stuff kept growing, and multiplying, and taking over my space, my life… but who needed a life when I had stuff?

But not so long ago, I came to a place on the path I was traveling that knocked me to my stuffy core…I had to say goodbye to much of my stuff. Through no fault of the stuff but through my own pursuit of material wealth, of keeping up appearances, of wanting to be part of the stuffy crowd, I over indulged and the weight of all the stuff was too much to carry and it and I went crashing to the ground, all of us breaking into a million tiny pieces. I was devastated and immediately thought about what people would think of me… I let my stuff go… I betrayed my stuff… I was weak… I was a loser of stuff.

It took me a long time to peel myself off the floor of nothing. “How can one go on without stuff?” I asked myself. What will I do without things, without junk, just plain without? I agonized over this and hid for many a day, hid inside myself as I had no stuff behind which to hide. I cowered in shame that I had been such a horrible caretaker of all the stuff that had trusted me to keep them safe and secure in my home of things. I didn’t know where to turn, where to go… I needed to find more stuff to love and love me but where, how?

I searched high and low for an answer about getting over the devastating loss of stuff. I went to places where stuff can be found and asked about how to find peace without it. I roamed through areas of other peoples’ stuff, reaching out with hesitation and asking, “May I simply touch your stuff? I lost mine and I need to feel again.” I was now a stranger in a strange land… I had once lived there but now was alone in an empty wilderness of nothing.

And then, like a bolt of lightning I found an answer, a very simple answer… an answer I found in this comment by an anonymous human being who understood my pain and loneliness about my stuff but provided a way out of stuffiness.

“There is something perverse about more than enough. When we have more, it is never enough. It is always somewhere out there, just out of reach. The more we acquire, the more elusive enough becomes.” Yes!!!!!! That was it. Stuff was a self-fulfilling prophecy… when we had it we wanted more of it and stuff bred stuff and more stuff and even more stuff. It is only when we lose our stuff that we know that we have enough, that the stuff we must cherish and protect and love is the stuff inside us, the stuff we are made of, the stuff of heroes, and patriots, and doers, and givers, and lovers.

So yes, I have accumulated more stuff and it still gives me pleasure and comfort, and I look around and admire my stuff and touch it, and care for it, and love it. But what I love more is me… the stuff from which I am made, my most prized possessions… my heart, spirit, and soul.

So here’s what I do now… I am not afraid of losing stuff, in fact, I find great joy in giving it away. I often pick out one favorite item of my stuff, I hold for a brief moment, enjoying it, loving it and then I give it away to someone who has little or no stuff. And my stuff now has a new home, will become a cherished possession, will be taken care of, kept safe, appreciated and fill another’s heart with the joy of stuff.