Belongings v. Belonging

Owning a lot of stuff can give you a temporary feeling of being happy. But when you start to collect a lot of belongings, the burden can feel overwhelming, says a person who moved three times during the Pandemic :). And, the more we own, the more we demand of the earth to support us.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, author Robin Wall Kimmerer muses on ways in which our relationship with the earth is reflected in our relationships with others. Being caring and conscientious with our natural environment gives us a feeling of belonging to the earth. She gives beautiful examples of how we have co-evolved with the earth – where we need the earth and the earth needs us.

In much of the work I do around Organizational Habits, the number one issue most folks mention is clutter. So what if we shared more and purchased less? When we share rather than own, our imprint on the earth is smaller. And we form bonds with a group of like-minded individuals. Apps like “Next Door” and Facebook groups like “Own Nothing” are cool technical ways to share, to own less, and to add to a feeling of belonging to a local community. And – bonus! You also have less clutter.

Kimmerer posits that in today’s more affluent societies, we care more for our belongings than we do for belonging to a family, a group, or to a greater society. As we become more aware of the earth life forces around us, do we naturally become more caring and conscientious of each other?

Just because two words look alike doesn’t mean there’s a connection, but in this case… Please ponder :).

And, by the way, I highly recommend Braiding Sweetgrass. It is a book rich with science and heart, and with Native-American wisdom that has been missing from our national dialog for a long time.

Don’t we live in an amazing world filled with color and light? These shots are from a walkabout at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC. The columns were part of the original Capitol, built in 1828, but “recycled” to the Arboretum in the 1980s. Great “reuse” v. discard.

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7 thoughts on “Belongings v. Belonging

  1. Thanks so much for this post. Braiding Sweetgrass is one of my top favorite books, and it helps to be reminded of her thoughts! With much gratitude, Marcia

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe that the Pandemic has made many of us aware that we no longer need “stuff”. After vaccination I went looking for one or two items that had simply worn out after a year of heavy use but other things I might once had considered were no longer interesting.Certainly many moves in a short period of time speeds the process of eliminating things but there are also other ways to come to the realization that much less stuff is needed than we might have once thought. Aging is definitely one of those.


  3. Love this blog Janie and so true!
    Love the beautiful pictures for the beauty of the columns and reusing, for others to see and enjoy and of course, the beautiful and colorful Azaleas


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