I’ve been throwing out a lot of stuff lately, and I like it.
If you’ve been following the New House Saga, you know that I’m downsizing dramatically. I’ve already done a good bit of offloading over the past year. Presently my personal STUFF is contained to one office and one bedroom. So half my work is done, right?
Or so I thought. Once I started actually taking inventory and packing stuff up, I discovered I wasn’t nearly so downsized as I thought. For one thing, STUFF expands. It goes from this:
So there’s books coming off the shelves like clowns coming out of a circus car. THEN I got to the garage and attic and I found that I was holding onto baggage I didn’t even realize. (Yes, there’s a big anvil of a metaphor there.)
There were boxes I hadn’t opened since I moved here. College textbooks for me, my mom AND my dad. Collectibles and action figures. Tee-shirts from shows I’d been in and so much sheet music and so many scripts. Shows I’d done, things I’d auditioned for and didn’t get the part….
I found a box of my parent’s albums. I understand that some vinyl goes for decent money these days, but I highly doubt anyone is going to want an LP of Roger Miller’s Greatest Hits or the soundtrack to “Dark Shadows”–the original one. It’s nice to know my parents were nerds, too.
Here’s what else I discovered. If you put stuff out by your curb the afternoon before trash pickup day? PEOPLE COME TAKE IT. How genius is that? I offloaded a faux christmas tree (pre-wired with lights), a tea-cart with a broken wheel, a dozen or so terra cotta pots, a queen-sized bed frame, a director’s chair with no seat, but not the stacks of textbooks on pre-natal care or fluid dynamics or speech development in hearing impaired infants.
Which is all perfectly good for some people, but I would never take something from someone’s trash. Or so I thought until last trash day, when I discovered that a new neighbor had a GIANT BOX OF BOXES set out by his curb.
My biggest discovery, though, is that it’s a lot easier to get rid of stuff when you realize it’s actually going to cost you to keep it. You have to spend time packing it, you have to pay a mover, you have to give up useful space for those boxes.
And that’s the point of this metaphor, I guess. I’ve always been someone who holds onto things, but this time, this move, I’m not having a problem being ruthless.
It’s liberating to realize you are not the product of your possessions. It’s not the things that make you remember the people you love. It isn’t your stuff that makes you who you are. Getting rid of things I once loved–or even things I still love but can’t keep–doesn’t change my past or the memories that made me into the person I am.
Here endeth the metaphor.
In keeping with the theme–and the fact I’ll have no garage soon–I’m giving away copies of my books! Comment by Friday for a chance to win a UK edition of Spirit and Dust.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to throw away? What are you convinced you could never part with? Have you ever picked up something from someone else’s trash? (I won’t judge you, I promise.)