November 17, 2011
Downsizing - Letting Go of Your Stuff
I am sure some of you will be able to identify with the daunting task of downsizing. I recently helped my parents move from their home of 40 years. This involved a trip across the country and time away from school (that is another story), work and my own family. As you can imagine, this was quite an extensive undertaking and the fact that we had less than 3 weeks in which to accomplish this feat was more than a little daunting.
My dad is 92 and my mom a decade younger. Up until recently, she has been very active and able to care for my dad. All that came to a screeching halt this fall (after a long period of severe pain with no explanation) when she was finally diagnosed with multiple fractured vertebrae in her spine. She is now in a wheelchair most of the time.
Sorting through and deciding what to do with the accumulated stuff in an accelerated fashion made it imperative to make quick decisions about what to keep (had to be minimal) and what had to go. It got me thinking that it would be good to let go of things that weigh us down before we are forced to do it. The stuff kept because it might be useful some day (and in our family, that was actually true, if you could find the item when you needed it, that is) filled a 3,000+ square foot house, 2 garages and two sheds on the 5 acre property. My mom also had not one, but two huge freezers, one actually full of aged foodstuffs, but the other was full of fabric and paper! We ended up chucking pretty much everything in both!
My parents lived through the Great Depression, and that experience colored not only their lives but also my own. I too have a stash of things that I have moved at least a couple of times, mostly things I am planning to use "someday" - for example, fabric to sew curtains and pillows and containers to organize things (which is kind of ironic) all still in boxes from the last move.
I wonder about all the people who keep stuff in those ginormous storage facilities that seem to dot the landscape even out in the country these days. Will that (mostly) junk stay there until the day they die, wracking up debt in the process? I tell myself that at least I haven't gone that far, but my situation right now is that I rent a place in the City and own in the country so in reality my storage unit is my house, a very expensive storage unit!
Going through this experience and realizing how little value is put on other people's stuff, I think I may finally be ready to open those boxes and let go of a good portion of the things I haven't had time to use for the past decade or more. I wonder if someone else could actually use and maybe even treasure some of my stuff if I were to give it away rather than have it sitting in storage, possibly becoming damaged, unused and unloved?
What motivates you to let go of stuff?
*Oh, and the picture? My kids, on their grandparent's property 6 years ago.