2017: My Stuff
I’ve been watching a documentary called ‘My Stuff’. Young Finnish filmmaker named Petri Luukkainen.
Update, 2023: The mystuffmovie website is now defunct (domain name appears to have been hijacked). Appears to be available on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/mystuff/162674607
If you haven’t seen it and wish to, stop reading here. Small moments of ‘reveal’ in the film are pivotal to the enjoyment of such a film, as it slowly unwinds quiet insights. The ‘spoilers’ in my notes – even though it isn’t a fictional story – will spoil the story.
The process is almost as revealing as the documentary itself; I’m thinking about minimalism and reducing screen time, watching a documentary – but it has subtitles, so I’m continually pausing as I divide my attention between the screen in front of me and the screen on my laptop. I need to write about this experience, share it, just as the narrator does, sharing his life experiment. I’m reminded of the ‘tree falls in the forest’ koan.
On Oprah, many years ago, I think before I had Internet, I saw a man featured who sat in the audience who recorded every moment. He sat there writing in a huge tome… every moment of his life diarized in real time or almost so. How ludicrous, I thought. How can you live when you are writing your diary in every moment. And yet here we are.
So back to the documentary. A young man puts all his stuff in storage in an attempt to discover who he is and what makes him happy. Actually, at the start, he says ‘why he is unhappy’ and I think these two are not necessarily the binary opposites they appear to be.
Priorities: coat, shoes, shirt, trousers, mattress. Diary. Beanie, socks, underpants. Bike. Razor.
The things he chooses make sense and say something about Maslow… I’m itching to share them here, but they’d be spoilers if you haven’t watched it. There’s a delight in the ‘reveal’ of his selection and his thoughts about each thing. And non-thing.
What I find most interesting are the multiple points where he observes that he doesn’t really need much more, and yet continues to retrieve items. Why? What is ‘enough’?
How many things do you need to function in your life?
How many things do you need to make you happy?
Things don’t make a home, though. It has to come from somewhere else. Things there are just props.
“I can manage with about 100 things, and another 100 things for some comfort and joy. It seems grandma was right; your life is not made of your things.”