Katie Hart Smith

What defines you? The labels in the clothes you wear? The kind of car you drive? Do you tend to slide down the slippery slope of materialism and let stuff define your worth? Or, do you prefer to take a more practical and realistic approach to see stuff for what it is?

We all like stuff. We see stuff. We buy stuff. We buy more stuff to go with the other stuff. When we use up, out-grow, wear out, break, or tire of stuff, we either throw stuff or give stuff away. And, then we get some more stuff to replace that stuff. 

I find myself laughing as I write this, but does the cycle sound familiar?

Recently, my parents made the decision to downsize. As Mom sorted through their personal effects to include her ice skates, a melodeon, and an old Victrola, fond recollections resurfaced, ranging from skating on frozen ponds in New Jersey in the late 1960s with Dad and I, singing with family as a relative played the pump organ in their living room, to hearing my great-grandfather’s baritone vocals ring out from the primitive record player. I listened as Mom, joyful yet tearful, recounted every story as she lined up the precious items to be passed down, given away, or donated. While one may look at the pair of ice skates as just that, Mom relived vintage vignettes that conjured and evoked beautiful emotions and feelings.

As she parted with each belonging, she felt like she was giving away a part of her - her history, her memories, and her stories. However, she also knew that she was closing one chapter and beginning a new one. We discussed the fact that while these objects have intrinsic value, it’s not the material things that matter. It’s about passing down the beloved tales and about creating new adventures with family and loved ones.

I saw a funny saying the other day that drove the point home. “No one is going to stand up at your funeral and say, ‘They had a really expensive couch and great shoes.’” Truer words were never spoken. Your family and friends will speak about the kind of person you were, your actions, and your convictions.

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.

While we work hard to collect those material things that make our life easier, prettier, or better, at the end of the day, life isn’t about stuff. Life is about what we do, who we are, and the people we surround ourselves with. It’s about what’s in our hearts and how we choose to live life through our daily interactions with each other that really matter.

What story do you want to be told about you?

About Katie Hart Smith
“Words, written or spoken, have power.” A published author for twenty-five years, Katie Hart Smith’s column, “From the Heart,” touches the heart, inspires, entertains, and speaks to one’s heart and soul. To learn more about this Southern author, Smith’s speaking engagements, and events visit www.katiehartsmith.com.