A Few Cubic Feet of Flesh

I can’t help but to keep coming back to this thought. We have so much stuff in our lives. And we worry about it and keep it and try to get more. Yet some have nothing. For them, it’s enough to have to manage just a “few cubic feet of flesh” (Thoreau, Walden). So who are we that hold so many things and yet  have just our own one body to manage?

I’ve been scrambling with my wife to get rid of almost a decade’s worth of stuff before we travel. I marvel that the greatest struggle is that we want to keep it.

Society has taught us that we must give time and effort to acquire valuable things. We often fail to learn the greater value in being able to let go of things. Letting go of something means letting go of the time and effort given for it. But we have to remember that the thing itself was not the only thing we got in return for our payment. As a matter of fact, most of the time the thing itself has very little current value for us.

What we care about are the memories, the lessons learned, the people involved, the experiences that we hold dear and use as a measuring stick for the present. And these things do not live in the objects that are associated with them. These things live in us. We’ll never let them go, unless we really feel the need to. But that is a process separate from selling or giving away the physical object.

Knowing this, realizing it, believing it, frees us from stuff. Yes, it’s damned nice to have lots of stuff. They’re like trophies. Some of it is great, useful technology. A lot of it makes life “easier” and “quicker” and “nicer”. And looking at them, having them, reminds us once in a while of the great values surrounding their acquisition.

But most of the time it doesn’t. Let’s remember that what is valuable is within us. And we have only to reach in and cloak our minds around the real good we’ve obtained from our sweat, blood, and tears, to be able to continually benefit from them.

If we need to or want to free up clutter, we can do so light of heart because we’ve got so much good stored up inside that takes no space.

Live powerfully,


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