Recently, I’ve become aware of an excessive amount of stuff lurking in hidden crevices in my life. Pieces of a version of life long ago.
A bill arrived recently for a storage unit we rent. I’d forgotten about this embarrassing bit of excess. I drove over to remind myself what we were paying to store…what’s that famous phrase…’out of sight – out of mind’? Phrases don’t become famous for nothing.
It was filled with furniture and exercise equipment I had put aside, optimistically waiting for the kids to have their own homes, and put family heirlooms (ha!) to good use.
But the reality is, the kids have been living on their own for years, and have no interest in my sentimental ruminations.
What do I do with the skis, tennis racquets, the coats that have been replaced by new ones? I take them to the attic and close the door. And evidently, I chose to store these silly mugs.
As I placed each item in limbo, I wasn’t thinking I would eventually have to deal with every silly trinket. The day of reckoning has come, and it’s really hard.
It’s hard because there is no easy way to rid yourself of things – each item has to be evaluated – Do I sell it? Donate it? Throw it away?
If you think something has value, you might be surprised to find that others don’t agree.
I was in a consignment shop yesterday, attempting to ‘monetize’ our stuff, and an elderly couple was trying to do the same with their china. The dealer was explaining the pattern of their china was outdated. The woman said, “but the pattern is called ‘Modern’.” Well, it’s post modern now. It was so sad. The man and his wife wrapped up their unappreciated china, and left looking befuddled and confused.
I feel their pain. I have three giant boxes of my daughter’s old riding equipment. She hasn’t been on a horse for years, yet she assumed she would one day ride again. Fast forward fifteen years: She works six and a half days a week, and takes frequent business trips. There is no room in her life for a horse. It is time to let go of all the gear. One snafu… all the horse blankets and tack box are monogramed, making it somewhat less attractive to everyone with different initials.
My greatest treasure from my children’s early years are their storybooks. I loved our many intimate sweet times, when they were small enough to snuggle in my lap, reading stories again and again. Beatrix Potter, Dr Seuess, and Hans Christian Andersen. But decades of storing the books in basements and attics have made the books musty and horrible. Years ago, I put all these sacrosanct things away to save for my children’s children. Those scripture writers knew what they were talking about when they advised against storing things up on earth. We have lugged these things around from house to house, and now I find my treasures are musty, and I’m being crushed by the weight of it all.
Ok, I know …. pitiful! Hey, look at the bright side … this didn’t end up in a landfill back in the day. When my son was in kindergarden, recycling was just a glimmer in a few environmentalists’ eyes. Today I happily dumped this ‘promising’ art work into the recycling bin.
My mother just moved to the northeast from Florida where she lived for 23 years. She and I had to purge all the things that wouldn’t fit into her new apartment. It’s surprising what we choose to surround ourselves with. For years, she had an odd sculpture of a intimidating cat peering into a bird cage, prominently displayed on a table for all to admire. When I asked her if I had to pack it for the long trip north, she said, “oh heavens, get rid of it, I never liked it.”
Geez, I wondered what ghastly thing was lurking in my own home, invisible after too many years in its customary spot, deserving the boot.
Paring back our house is becoming a habit. It feels good. I’m learning to be more selective about what enters our doors, because now I see, what comes in, must someday leave. It isn’t easy making good choices, but I’m making baby steps toward the life I’d rather be living.