It’s about how we choose to release things. Or not. My brother, sister and I recently rented a storage unit for some items from our dad’s house. The last one of any size available in the area, it was much larger than we needed. We considered offering ballroom dance lessons to offset the monthly rental cost.
There are currently 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space in the US. Seven square feet for every man, woman and child making it physically possible for every American – all at the same time – to stand under a canopy of self-storage roofing equivalent to three times Manhattan Island. We are a nation attached to our stuff.
To call this a religious attachment is not far off the mark. In 1955 economist and presidential advisor Victor LeBow came up with a solution to bolster our post-war economy which has been adopted with increasing enthusiasm over the years. However the booming storage industry would indicate that while we excel at consuming we are not so good at discarding. At least not completely. Out of sight, out of mind, but not out of our lives.
This hasn’t always been the way of things. In ancient Ireland, as the English would discover much to their great and greedy delight, it was common practice to drop treasured items down holy wells. This behavior was also rooted in spiritual belief, albeit a vastly and diametrically different belief system than the religion of consumerism. For it was the intention of our Irish ancestors to honor the sacred elements as the source of all abundance. To give back in gratitude their best, most valued and artistic possessions. In gratitude for the blessings of skill and artistry with which they crafted these items. In gratitude for the raw resources for the crafting. In gratitude for having what they needed to survive and thrive. And there was no more powerful sacred element than water, most especially the holy wells.
One similarity is that both holy wells and storage units are small dark spaces. Another I suppose is that items therein were/are unlikely to again see the light of day. Beyond that they are antithetical. One is about hoarding. Beyond what we need or have the capacity to absorb into our lives. The other is about honoring the sacred sources and cycles of life and living lightly on the Earth. Re-think. Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Our ancestors lived these ideals long before they were popular and, unfortunately, popularly ignored.