George Carlin died early this morning, and I’m sure he was relieved to learn that it’s true, you can’t take it with you. None of it transfers to the other side. Money. Possessions. Stuff.

I always loved Carlin’s rants about Americans and their consumerism. Paraphrasing: “We have houses for our stuff. When we leave we have to lock it up, to protect our stuff so other people won’t take it. Because they always take the good stuff. When we go on vacation, we put our stuff in suitcases and then arrange it in the hotel room. We’re always thinking about our stuff.”

Americans are, in fact, drowning in stuff.

That is even more true now than years ago when Carlin first wrote that bit. Growing prosperity + insanely cheap crap from China + consumer cargo cult + Lucky Magazine/Sex & The City shopping lust = way too many possessions.

Look at any magazine cover in the grocery store and you see the sure-fire-sales teasers. 101 Ways to Organize your Home! Tidy up your Mudroom! Control your Clutter! Tame your Closet! We buy these magazines, hoping to finally whip our lives into shape. Professional organizers are a brand new industry. We pay these people to help us shuffle junk around. If all else fails, we rent space for our stuff because our houses can’t hold it all. Hence that recent gift to the American landscape, storage unit farms. Then we drive to the storage unit to ransom our holiday decorations when we need them, spending time and expensive gas in the process. It’s crazy. Literally.

Because our possessions own us. We are their slaves. We are in danger of drowning in our stuff.

To be fair, this isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. Back in the 1940s, a couple of brothers in New York City actually were killed by clutter in their tattered Fifth Avenue Kingdom of Krap. Check out this amazing story:

Read it and weep. Then purge your possessions. And RIP, George.

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