Do we really need all of this “stuff?”

If you type in a search along the lines of “How many container ships are lined up in San Pedro Bay,” you’ll likely get a series of headlines proclaiming that yet another record has been shattered.

San Pedro Bay is where cargo ships come in to be unloaded at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle about 40% of U.S. imports and serve as a key gateway from Asia.   

When port berths are full, incoming ships must wait at anchor there.

Although imports initially dropped off when the pandemic hit, that all changed when Americans who were stuck at home hopped online and went on a spending spree.

Although there are many reasons for the unprecedented supply chain mess, this buying surge is one of them.

And what used to be a norm of 0-1 ships waiting at anchorage has grown into a line that reached a record 73 ships in late September.

An apparent obsession

Port dynamics are familiar to me because the supply chain industry is one of the areas I write about in my client work.

I’ve been knee-deep in this content for some time now, and all the logistics related to shipping by sea, truck, rail, and air are fascinating to me.

And my familiarity with current events in this context is why, when Dave comes home from the grocery and says he couldn’t get one of our favorite items or that the price has jumped, we look at each other and say, “It’s the supply chain.”

But as I’ve conducted my research and viewed images and videos of huge ships with containers stacked to the brim, what has impressed me most is the apparent obsession we have with getting more “stuff.”

Of course, many of those containers contain essential items that really are necessary for our health and welfare, and I’m grateful when they can reach their destinations to fulfill those needs.

But those big metal boxes also contain a lot of items that represent how much our world is attached to getting more, instead of just enjoying what we already have.

The power of simplicity

Now, I enjoy nice things as much as anyone else.

But something I’ve been asking myself lately is what I can do to pare down so I don’t waste time, attention, money, and space on things I really don’t need.

And what I’ve been finding is a new freedom in needing less.

Because the world is getting to be a pretty complicated place.

And in that context, simplicity can be a pretty powerful thing.  


How about you?

Are you embracing simplicity in some way that you’d like to share?

If so, please feel free to comment below.

Sue Montgomery is a Christian writer/content creator who's also been a hospice nurse, family caregiver, health coach, and professional organizer. Now she's helping Baby Boomers like herself embrace the Boomer Continuum™ of agile caregiving, graceful aging, and peaceful dying—with Christian faith and simplicity to focus on what matters most.
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