Sunday, 16 November 2008

It's just stuff

My home was burgled while we were having fun in the sun at the rogaine at the beginning of this month. Their shopping list evidently included electronics, jewellery and clothing. I'm most heartsore about the theft of my beloved Canon 400D camera (they took my whole camera bag!), my external harddrive with about 15 years of photos, old university projects, various versions of (they didn't take the USB nor power cables!) and all of my road and trail shoes.

These fiends got over the electric fencing around the perimeter of the property, broke into the house and my cottage, setting off the armed response alerts. The armed security dudes came, shone their torches and said that the perimeter was intact. They did this twice in response to the separate alerts. Of interest, the house and cottage alarms are only triggered when a) the doors are opened or b) when movement is detected by the motion sensors. So, the thieves would have to be INSIDE, not OUTSIDE, for the alarms to go off.

The security guards were instructed to get on to the property, but they said, "We can't get in because of the fencing". Well, the thieves got in easily enough, sheltered by the noise and distraction of the storm. They knew it was likely that the thieves were on the property, sitting in our homes and going through every drawer, cupboard and box. Why didn't the security guys call the cops and hide around the corner, waiting for the bad guys to emerge (which they did with my neighbour's car loaded full of our things)? And, considering that the security company (Baron) was the only one that knew no-one would be on the property that weekend... Yes, one plus one does equal two.

Aside from the financial repercussions of replacing the stolen goods and the psychological violation, I keep reminding myself that it is just stuff that was taken. Material possessions. And, to echo a familiar South Africanism, "at least I wasn't there". Unfortunately not one finger print was found anywhere; they wore gloves.

In considering this "stuff", I was reminded by an article I read online some months ago on Time Magazine's website, "How to live with just 100 things". I'm a bit of a minimalist myself, keeping things mainly for their practical function and passing on items I no longer use. I can be quite ruthless, even with sentimental items. But I already exceed this 100 quota in books alone (or do "books" count as one category of things?)! And if you have sporting involvements, like adventure racing, then your toy count (drybags, backpacks, trekking poles, biking gear etc) takes up the 100 count on its own.

Moving is a great opportunity to cleanse. When I moved into my new place in August, I gave away a lot of stuff I no longer used or needed. I have a big, naked, open-plan kitchen and lounge area. My mom has visions of this empty space being filled by a table. My dad thought a kind of divider would be nice to take up the open volume. Not a chance, I like the emptiness and it is going to stay this way.

There's actually a "100 Thing Challenge, a grass-roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items".

Decluttering; that's what this is all about. Things can also keep you stuck in the past; you may never again fit into those size 32 pants you bought 10 years ago - but if you do make it back into a size 32, buy a new pair as a reward. And no, you won't maybe need those glass bottles one day when you finally get around to making your own preserves. Recycle the glass now and collect more bottles when you need them.

Decluttering is cleansing and calming. To help you get started read this piece on Ask the experts: 5 steps to clutter-free living.

And lastly, a note to my burglars, who have my cell phone number (a dude phoned from Beira, Mocambique this past Tuesday to say he'd "found" my storage - the line dropped and he hasn't called back) and goodness knows what other information... I have worked damn hard to get many of the things you took; they were important to me. And some of the things were not mine! It took me three years to get that camera and in stealing my harddrive you've taken much of my history! Perhaps money grows on trees for you, but it doesn't for me nor the other people you take things from. I do firmly believe what goes around, comes around. And your time will come; whether through illness or "bad luck" what you have done to others will be done to you. Yes, this is a curse and you will get a hiding one way or another for your bad deeds.


Anonymous said...

isa, I'm so sorry to hear of your burglary. Keep holding onto your positive attitude, it really is just stuff. But I know the hurt and anger deep inside and hope you can overcome the emotions quickly

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa,

Really sorry to hear that. What a bummer. I don't know what I'd do if all my photos got stolen...

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa. I'm really sorry to hear this. I know it's upsetting, but at least you have a positive outlook.