There’s a scene in Beauty and the Beast (the story, not the movie) that captured my imagination as a child. Wandering about the Beast’s castle, Beauty discovers “a store-chamber piled with treasures a king and queen might have envied.” I thought of this scene last week when I was at the New York Gift Show in the Javits Center – it was truly a Palace of Stuff. Not for nothing is part of the building called the Crystal Palace….it held the most dazzling display of the the lavish, the new, the stylish, and the expensive. Our booth was in the Extracts section, where we were surrounded with every type of bodycare luxury. In the adjacent aisles there were mountains of 1000 thread-count sheets, silk pillows, jewelry, witty stationery, and countless other lovely and clever things.

We women tend to approach shopping as a sensory adventure….we like to touch, smell, and taste. So during slow periods in the show I roamed the aisles soaking up colors, textures and trends.

Eventually, I noticed that – however gorgeous this stuff was – I didn’t actually want any of it. I felt sated just by looking. It occurred to me that I had landed temporarily on a sweet spot in the psyche where I could appreciate things without desire and craving. (Which, as all good Buddhists know, are the root causes of suffering!) It was quite relaxing!

Of course we at Summer House Soaps are very much part of the world of stuff. We love it when people crave our soap. Still, it’s refreshing to look at contrasting views on the subject. Check out:

The Story of Stuff, a clever animated video that may change the way you look at the stuff in your life.

The 100 Thing Challenge, in which a guy named Dave attempts to pare down his personal stuff to 100 items.