Friday, June 8, 2012

Falling out of love

I come from a history of "stuff" people. I'm not saying that any of my ancestors were hoarders or anything; I'm just saying that a lot of my relatives really liked (and still like) to surround themselves with their favorite objects—all one billion of them.

Perhaps your lineage is similar to mine (rampant with collectors); or, it's possible that you just happen to be in love with stuff, like most of the folks in our country. If I'm talking about you, and you'd like to change, I have a wonderful solution. Read on.

First, get big piles of your belongings—not the stuff you use every day, mind you, but the stuff that you like and that isn't sentimentally loaded with meaning. For example, the bowl set you got on sale (but not Aunt Mary's measuring cup). The funky little lamp that was on clearance but doesn't really match anything in your home, the kitchen "convenience" that has been responsible for more dust bunnies than culinary wonders. Or you men: the third tool set, perhaps, or the great gift, years old now, that has never left its box.

Now, put all those items in containers and hide them completely out of sight—in the attic, a shed, the darkest corner of your basement.

Then, wait at least six weeks. Don't peek in the boxes.

And then, peek. Ponder how little you've missed the items. Think deeply about how their absence made not one iota of difference in your day-to-day life.

Take it a step further: picture in your mind all those same items, along with all your other truly necessary possessions, being hoisted, lifted, and cursed quietly by your friends who have to pick them up and move them to another dwelling.

Now, take all the items you've suddenly realized you can easily live without, and cull any truly valuable pieces for secondhand sales attempts on craigslist. The rest of that stuff? Place it all in the back of your car. Drive to a nearby charity. Leave it there, and drive away.

(Regarding the re-sale attempts, establish a firm, short sales window and stick with your deadline; if the items don't sell, get rid of them the same way you got rid of the rest.)

Finally, breathe deeply. Life is all about perspective. You just had to gain a new perspective about a significant chunk of your household trappings. All that was required was a mental image of people you know and like, sweating and struggling, working to transfer all those unused space stealers.

It's so easy to fall out of love. Isn't it?


Facie said...

But it is not that easy! My problem is discovering things I had forgotten about (e.g., a recently discovered box of books from our shed; how can I part with a collection of V books from high school?!), and once I see it again, I think I have to keep it.

What I need is for someone to just take my stuff and not tell me. In most cases I would not missing. It is the find out that the things still exist and thinking I might need it "just in case" that is a problem!

Mel said...

Hmmm. Maybe you're right, there's a percentage of the population whom should never re-open the boxes. (You know who you are!) But honestly, V? I tried to read that first one once and could not get through it; I could pitch that one in a heartbeat. (Half Price Books might take it! I take lots of old books there, or donate them to sales and our library.)

My big tripping block now is/will be my son's artwork and schoolwork... Of course I'm not throwing all that out! But I am recycling some of it.

Don't give up, though. The "light and easy" gene can be encouraged through practice. Even this move has required several iterations of sorting and re-purposing, but I'm happy to tell you that every time I've sorted, I've gotten less sentimental and more ruthless. You get less attached each time you pick through it, b/c you fool yourself less each time—at least I do.

Mel said...

Oops, I mean "You know whom you are!"

And I probably should have called this post Falling out of like... The stuff you really, truly love, you should probably hold on to.

chris h. said...

I often offer to cull my husband's stash (yes I know exactly what boxes haven't been touched in the 7 years we've lived here. I think I would concede to having him cull mine, too. Wondering how folks manage when one is a "collector" and the other is not (or at least is willing to pare down the collections)?

Mel said...

Chris, I make that same selfless, loving offer (ahem, ahem) and it is always turned down. So sad.

Re: how those couples manage? I can tell you that they manage poorly sometimes. "Manage" might not even be the best term. ; P

Glad to have you back around the 'sphere. Hope things are calming down for you.