I am a lover of ‘nice things’. I always have been. When I was a young girl my parents made friends with a couple from church who were immensely wealthy. When I saw their beautiful home and all the things they had, I knew that I would one day be rich and have a house full of nice things for myself.
I’m writing this post because I just had a friend put up some box shelves in my lounge room where I can display all my knick-nacks, small artworks and treasured photos. I am loving my new wall-bling and will no doubt enjoy it for many years to come, but it got me thinking about all my stuff and then stuff more generally.
As an Autie, I am very visual and respond to beauty, colour and form. Having nice things that I can look at makes me feel happy and safe. The number of things I have is limited by the rather cosy size of my flat, but I’m sure if I had a larger home I would rush out and buy stuff which I absolutely have to have (like designer teapots, paintings, small ceramic things, clothes, more clothes, oh and jewellery and I’m sure Mr Kitty could use some extra cat toys….and so on.) And I’m not the only one.
The odd thing about nice things is that they don’t really matter. When I was about 23, a partner stole all my things – nice and otherwise – and moved away. I have very few possessions from before 1997. The odd thing is that I never think ‘oh, I wish I had that’ from those things. I’m sure if I lost all my things again I wouldn’t really mind. I would replace them with new things.
Karl Marx had an idea he called ‘commodity fetishism’. I think what he meant was that people see objects or commodities – such as nice things – as a goal and an aspiration. As soon as someone owns the thing they move on to wanting another. I think this is part of the idea of objects and the pursuit of wealth as replacing human connectedness and making people alienated (although I’m far from a Marxian scholar!)
So I think I’ve decided that I like nice things but they are simply objects to enjoy, not a major part of my being. When I’m dying, I sincerely doubt I’ll wish for a new teapot or painting. I’ll probably want to see my family and friends and my cat. I may want to hold my books and reflect on them and all that they mean but that is more because they are meaningful to me. And when I do die, all those nice things I have collected through life and which have meaning to me will probably be given to charity or thrown out. So I’ll enjoy my stuff but not let it alienate me from real relationships.