Eat, Pray but please don’t Leave: The “Stuff” we don’t talk about enough.


I need a piece of paper,” she says, picking up the bag at her feet to take out a pencil. I watch her rummage and cannot help but think of the stranger who rummaged through the same bag, probably in a similar fashion, just a few hours before.

She plucks a few moments of silence from the 5a.m. hour, scribbles on the paper, and looks up once or twice. Calculating Math Equations Within the Air.

It is just accessories,” she murmurs. “It is all just accessories. It can all be replaced.”

I could very easily take right now to rant about how I don’t understand why bad things must happen to good people. I could stand atop my blogging platform to yell at the unidentifiable person(s) of the Bronx who smashed in my good friend’s car window and robbed her during the night just a few days ago. People who took the night’s quiet as a green light to pillage through the belongings of a girl who was mid-move from New York City back to Pennsylvania, only to pack up and move to Italy in just four days.

I could very easily articulate how it felt to walk Libby down the stairs at 5a.m. and notice a pile of stuff sitting restlessly outside of her car. To make a silent prayer with pursed lips that there was not shattered glass, a broken window, and a great deal of her things taken from inside the car.

I could say all of this, but I would rather just dwell on her two perfect sets of five words.

1)It 2) is 3)all 4)just 5)accessories.

1)It 2)can 3)all 4)be 5)replaced.

Libby taught me something two days ago at a time in the morning where I could easily swear it was far too early to learn any kind of lesson. The accessories– the computers, the cell phones, the hard drives– are all replaceable. There will always be another computer to have, another blog to build or another upgrade to await. But People are entirely different. We cannot easily replace distinct laughs. Thoughtful conversations. Whirlwinds of memories.

If anyone has taught me this best, it is Libby.

A girl with a camera. A girl who defines the New York City Artist. An Ambitious Go-Getter Who Gets Life & Its People & Who Has Beautiful Visions To Dress This World In Something More Beautiful.

I have only known her for two months but it will be a very long time before I soon forget our coffee dates scattered throughout the city. The way she knows every fact about this Big City, every secret that sits in the pockets of the five boroughs. The ways she listens to a rant or a rave or a praise and she believes in you no matter what.

She will board a plan for Italy in three days and she will pursue the country in search of good Capucchinos & Inspiring People. Eating Life As If It Were Delectable Gelati. And I will continue to walk around her City, the one she made her own, counting the ways in which I cannot replace her.

She is the kind of person that makes you wish you could take all of New York City, all of its great people and great sights, and pack it all into a snow globe. Because I want her to take NYC to Italy. But she doesn’t need a snow globe. It is just another thing to fall under the category of Stuff.

If I am falling so gracefully into any lesson this year, it is this one: I don’t need “Stuff.” Stuff won’t hold my hand & Stuff won’t push me to be wonderful in this world. Stuff is great, don’t get me wrong, but is it not the “be all, end all” I once thought it to be.

I have realized this year how many times in the past I have used the ability to buy something as a coping mechanism, as a way to deal with sadness or forget loneliness. Swipe. Swipe. Swipe. New Shoes. Pretty Bows. Unnecessary Trinkets from Target.All to forget the fact that I was dealing with unkempt emotions.

It is not so easy to do when your budget is 25 dollars each week.

Welcome to forced conversations. Welcome to “I have no choice to call you right now or spill out my heart over a cup of coffee because quite frankly, this year is hard and sometimes feel like I don’t know how to cope.”

Welcome to “It was so much easier when I could cope by way of Forever 21.”

But also, welcome to Growth. To Baby Steps. To realizing that a person is not great because of the Stuff they carry but rather the Stuff they hold within. The Stuff they give out on a daily basis, in the form of good advice, support and ears that perk to listen.

And this is the kind of Stuff we want more of. The Kind Of Stuff We Should Practice Fostering. By being good to people, speaking kindly, daring people to run with their visions and crazy ideas. By showing up at their door with a coffee in hand. Or forcing them to sit down at a table and talk until it feels better.

Some pawn shop in the Bronx is sitting with more stuff today. But it is just stuff. And whoever buys it will know it too, it is just stuff. It is not a spirit or a dream, a vision or a good heart. It is just cold, hard and plastic with a dollar sign plastered on the front.

Find the good stuff today, the stuff worthy of filling your soul with. The good conversations. The good revelations. The good people. The good ideas. The good for the world.The good in other people.The Good Stuff.

I know Libby is more than likely reading this, nodding to every word that I am typing, she knows Good Stuff. Trust me, she knows the definition of Good Stuff. Where it Sits. How it Evolves.

And this is the kind of good we need all around us, not in our hands or plugged into our ears, but in the words that we speak and the intentions that we keep. In the ways we count our blessings & every single person that we count.

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20 thoughts on “Eat, Pray but please don’t Leave: The “Stuff” we don’t talk about enough.

  1. A few notes here:
    1. There is a wonderful diner on 14th street called The Good Stuff Diner…It is definitely “Good Stuff”

    2. The idea of taking New York City and fitting it in a small snow globe is absolutely incredible. Did you know that you can’t take snow globes on as carry ons? Could you imagine the glass breaking in a packed suitcase and all of New York City suddenly emerging from the basements of a plane…YIKES

    3. You tagged JEANS in this…do you know how truly great that is? I laughed for five minutes.

    You are so wonderful Hannah. And when I get back, cappuccino in whatever big city you are in is definitely in order. I promise.

  2. Hi Hannah,

    Lovely, lovely, lovely! How fortunate you met Libby on this adventure you’ve embarked on. Glad the folks who stole her material items didn’t also steal her heart or her life or her health.

    One of my fav topics. We are raised to be consumers not citizens. Our education teaches us to study hard so we can get high paying jobs and live the American Dream of buying stuff. I actually heard a woman get up at a town meeting many years ago and say we had to build a new school so the kids would be able to get high paying jobs and buy big houses. (To hold lots of stuff.)

    Pick up the newspaper. The economic indicators are all about people not buying enough stuff. We’re in a recession only because folks aren’t buying stuff. If they could buy memories and stories and compassion and kindness, we wouldn’t be in a recession. We could redefine recession. There’s a great documentary you might like called, “The Story of Stuff.”

    Frankly, we’ve stuffed ourselves with material stuff with little room for anything meaningful. Better to get rid of the stuff and make room for adventures. I like your line about not being able to buy stuff, which as you point out is a life long diversion — to keep us from dealing with our internal stuff.

    Malls are sad places. People weighted down with bags of stuff wandering around looking for more things to stuff down their emotions with. That’s what I used to do before I swore off mall hopping as a hobby.

    Fab post as usual!

    Giulietta

    1. I loved everything about this comment Giulietta, thanks for giving me some morning wisdom to reflect upon. Much appreciated.

      WIll have to check out that documentary.

      You swore off mall hopping? Wow.

  3. I absolutely loved this post 🙂 It’s nice to have a friend that is so inspiring to you… and I often forget that possessions are just “stuff”… and CAN be replaced. These things do not define me. This post was a nice reminder- thanks for sharing. Hope your friend has wonderful travels.

  4. Wonderful post as usual Hannah! Both Libby’s perspective and yours are so intune. “Stuff” is just that and I have always believed that the simple things in life and the basics such as happiness, family, friends, and making a difference to others is more important than any “stuff.” Keep on….

  5. As with all of your posts, I adore this one!

    “Retail Therapy” is such an acceptable mode of placating your feelings and while temporarily you feel great about it, eventually the feelings come back and then what? Spend more money?

    “Find the good stuff today, the stuff worthy of filling your soul with. The good conversations. The good revelations. The good people. The good ideas. The good for the world.The good in other people.The Good Stuff.”

    Perfect!

    All my love,
    Carolina

  6. I think more and more people are realizing this about STUFF and it’s great to see. I used to be caught in the work/consumption lifestyle but I am so much happier now and don’t need to ‘fix’ my emotions by way of shopping spree anymore!

  7. What a wonderful spirit that lovely girl has, and I’m glad to have met her through you! I’m so sorry she had to be target of some awful crime. But it is just stuff… what’s important is still safe inside.

  8. Your words are always so encouraging and uplifting. Although I don’t know you “in-person” you strike me as someone who is incredibly idealistic. We need more people like you in the world!

  9. At some point I stopped collecting so much stuff and realized I’d much rather spend my money on making memories through experiences with people I love. It’s better that way. Memories and friends and good conversation and late night talks are much more important and powerful than any sort of stuff.

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