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Today was one of the harder days in a while. I worked into the wee hours this morning and then again following a short night’s sleep. I was spending money. Lots of money. I used to think that shopping was a challenge and it was interesting. I do most of my shopping online and always look for the best prices and promotions like free shipping or a total percent off your order. My two-day shopping spree was underpinned by coupon/sale shopping. But it’s quite daunting when you are ordering for a whole home, all at once.

I ended my wee-hour work with bed sheets and left over containers. Neither order was coming out right. This morning, the containers were missing from my shopping cart and this afternoon the sheets disappeared. The first company had a 4-hour limit on time in the cart and the second company had a 12-hour limit. I ordered an expensive bed, over the phone, sight (or back) unseen. I have never done anything like that.

 I have been using my credit card to process the orders. The bill got big enough for me to call American Express and ask them to note that it really was me using the card, not some identity thief. They thanked me and upped my credit limit to $50,000. I don’t know which was more disturbing—what I had spent or what they would allow me to spend.

Pragmatically deciding on the important items for restarting your home is important work. Doing the shopping is like an emotional minefield. For the longest time I focused on details and prices—bill- tos and ship-tos—then something hit me. It was an item I needed but that had died in the fire, or something I found new that promised to be a good design. Either way, the loss of the stuff and the mounting bills to pay for new stuff raises one’s awareness of, well, stuff about stuff.

Stuff is good. Stuff is ephemeral but it is the stuff from which our lives are made. It is the sheets we sleep on, the plates we eat off, the clothes we wear and the possessions that delight and inspire us. Today I realized that acquiring stuff made me change my perspective on the stuff from which our lives are made.

Family, friends, dogs, cats, chickens, horses, gerbils, children, soldiers, people—they are the true stuff from which our lives are made. Yet, the stuff we have in our houses are the lenses from which we interpret the living things that are the real stuff. Painfully remembering you have less stuff opens the door to learning what stuff truly is.