In preparation for this upcoming move (countdown: 5 days), I have been doing a lot of sorting and purging. Downsizing from a 2 bedroom apartment to one room in the basement and a storage unit down the street causes one to re-evaluate absolutely everything you own. Will it fit in the bedroom? Is it worth paying every month to store? When was the last time I wore this shirt or these pants? Why do I own _______? Where did ________ even come from? How necessary is ______ for my survival? Will I regret getting rid of _______ in 2 months, 1 year, 5 years?
And so began the piles, which then moved to boxes, or to the back of my car for a trip down the road to Goodwill. There is the “home” pile, the “storage” pile, the “Goodwill” pile, the “sell on Craig’s List” pile, the “throw-it-away” pile and finally, the “I have no idea pile” (I have a feeling most of this last collection is going to end up with Gaby, my neighbor).
As a side note, let me just tell you that I have learned a lot about selling possessions on Craig’s List. Pictures are vital. Always list it for more than you actually want for it so you can haggle. Be honest about the condition it is in – don’t sugarcoat it, or under emphasize its qualities. Give a phone number for people to text you (so many more responses than just the email…the difference was astonishing). And don’t always settle for the person who will take it off your hands for a much lower price. Chances are, someone will come along who wants it and will take it for closer to what you are asking!
Anyway, I digress. Back to my myriad of deep questions on the nature of possessions and their longevity in my life. Some items are no brainers. My 100+ year old Japanese Tonsu that was a birth gift will always be in the “home” pile, as will my antique iron bed that I have had since I was 6. Since Alexandre Dumas is my favorite author, my 9-volume collected works of his will also not be going anywhere anytime soon. The hope chest, tea set, pictures, china, photo albums and scrapbooks, gifts and keepsakes – those are the things that I consider worth storing and keeping for the long haul, no matter where life takes me.
But then there are things that make me stop and wonder where exactly my brain was when I put it in a box and carted it out here in the first place, and other things that make me laugh out loud.
- An entire accordion file folder full of paperwork, maps, brochures and notes from my college Freshman year orientation weekend. Um, that was 9 YEARS ago. Pretty sure I am never going to need any of that information again.
- The plaster molds of my jaw/teeth from my massive jaw surgery in 2003 (also, 9 years ago, just in case you were wondering), and yes, those went straight into the trash can
- Hundreds of cards/notes from friends and family sent throughout the past 26 years, most of which were just signed “love, so&so”. I do still keep most cards that have substance written in them, though…
- An entire jewelry box of mis-matched earrings that have been lost or broken over the years
- My old AWANA notebooks
- All of my summer mission trip support raising data, including every envelope sent by my fabulous ministry partners…from 2002-present.
What I have learned through this process is that I am really good at saving things (AKA a pack-rat…a condition that runs rampant in my family – at least I come by it honestly), especially if they have the remotest possible sentimental value. And that means that I am terrible at getting rid of anything that might be useful someday or to someone or just because I like it. But, necessity is a fabulous motivator, and I am learning as I sort and purge how to un-tie my heart where needed and re-evaluate the priority I place on my possessions.
Scaling down is surprisingly quite freeing, causing me to feel more mobile and less encumbered without all of this random stuff that I don’t actually need to survive. Although, some items aren’t a need, rather just an added joy or a blessing in my life, and I will keep those because they do mean something special to me. So as the piles begin to dwindle, the questions continue, and the answers hopefully come more easily. Keep. Go. Throw. Store. Give. Sell. Sleep. Repeat.