the normalcy of stuff

I was watching bad television last night and trying to fall asleep when I noticed that the New York apartment set for this bad sitcom was unusually cluttered. There were numerous odd and interesting objects around the place like a reel-to-reel film projector, and I do not know the characters well enough to assume this has something to do with their persona. I can only guess that the set designers were trying to give an eclectic feel to the place where a young, financially struggling couple lived. Personally, I would characterize that place as comfortably cluttered. There were knickknacks everywhere and no real blank space for the eye to rest.

As I struggle to dig out of our stuff and continue to remove the nonessential items, I’ve begun to wonder how much “stuff” is normal. I understand that hoarding can be diagnosed when the things get in the way of living well and personal relationships are put at risk. But what about the rest of us who are just decorating, collecting, or too busy to put things away? [Note: I should not say “us,” since I have already proven my problem to lie deeper.] What does society have to say about a nearly empty home? Even rented serviced apartments have decorative bowls and vases and coffee-table books to make the place feel more homey.

What about you? How do you live?

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