Too Many Possessions That We Don’t Need

My wife and I recently moved from one house to another. The two houses are three miles apart within the same college town, but it was nevertheless a stressful move. That’s because we’ve accumulated too many possessions in our 17 years of marriage. Only three of our possessions are priceless, and moving them was fairly easy. All we had to do was say, “Kids, the Wi-Fi has moved to the new house!”

Unfortunately, these three valuable possessions have possessions of their own, and it was up to us to make sure they were moved. We are a family of five, which means that we had to move five times as much junk as a single person would. Not all our stuff is junk, of course, but as I moved our clothes, books, furniture and an assortment of other items, I realized that I’d be quite happy to live with only one-fifth of it. Yes, I could easily manage without all the belongings of other family members.

Actually, most of my belongings are as unnecessary as my wife’s or children’s stuff. We could get rid of them and still be quite content – at least until we visit a friend’s home and see all their stuff.

“When you die, you can’t take it with you,” someone will inevitably say. That’s true, but you can at least leave it for your kids, so they’ll know that you cared enough about them to give them the pleasure of organizing an estate sale.

Until then, you’ll just have to haul all your belongings from one house to another, while wondering why you need all this stuff. You realize that your belongings fall into six main categories:

Clothes: Some of your clothes you wear regularly, some you wear only on special occasions, and some you never wear. The latter includes clothes that don’t fit you anymore, but you’ve been saving for years, just in case a miracle happens and you wake up one day 20 pounds slimmer. (Waking up much slimmer is certainly quite possible, especially since most of your dieting and exercising happens in your dreams.)

Shoes, sandals and slippers: You need shoes to match every outfit, of course, and shoes for every type of weather: sunshine shoes, rainstorm shoes, hurricane shoes. Some of your footwear, you never wear, of course. But you don’t feel guilty about this, because they still serve an important purpose, whenever your kids misbehave. (No, you don’t hit them with those neon-green flip-flops. You threaten to wear them to parents’ night at school.)

Furniture: All you need to get through life are two pieces of furniture: a chair and a TV stand. Everything else is nonessential. Beds are nice to have, but once you have a bed, you also need pillows, pillow cases, blankets, comforters, bed sheets, and bed covers. Trust me, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and money by just sleeping on a yoga mat.

Kitchen utensils: All you need to cook is a pot, but you own two dozen pots of different sizes. You also own a variety of frying pans, including one cast-iron pan that’s so heavy, the only time you’ve lifted it higher than your shoulder was the unfortunate night when you mistook your spouse for a burglar. (Well, at least the wind doesn’t blow off a hat as easily these days.)

Memorabilia: You have several boxes of memorabilia, which include not just photos of your children, but also their school reports, certificates, concert programs and baby drool bibs. You’ve saved all their artwork, even the napkin art that your daughter made with ketchup at McDonald’s.

Books: You own hundreds of books, some of which are extremely heavy. You moved your piano easily, but needed extra help for the box containing Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and Vikram Seth’s “A Suitable Boy.” On the bright side, you can get rid of all your furniture, sit on “War and Peace” and set your TV on “A Suitable Boy.”







If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. So true, but soo funny! Thank you so much for your rich humor. Can’t believe it’s 17 yrs!

  2. I moved from North Carolina to Hong Kong with one suitcase. We moved all over Asia carrying not much more than that. But when we moved from Charlotte to Durham, both in North Carolina, I needed a U-Haul, a towing rig for the car, and three helpers. Ugh.

  3. good one Melvin

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