Friday, March 14, 2008

What to keep, what to shed?

A few weeks ago, our landlord was kind enough to warn us he is trying to sell this lot to someone who would tear the house down and put up something else, offices or commercial, or perhaps a parking lot. The point is, we might be forced to move. We understood this was a possibility when we moved in. We opted for the low rent that was offered along with the uncertainty. But somehow, with the passage of time, the possibility of having to move seemed to fade.

In our dining room is a stack of stuff, to be sorted into "stuff to sell" versus "stuff to give to a friend (if he wants it)" versus "stuff to take to the thrift store." It's not the first stack that's been there. It won't be the last. Well, actually, I'm hoping to move the cull pile out of the dining room once I get another room organized, but the point is that moving stuff into a cull pile and then out the door is something of a lifestyle for us these days. Some things skip the cull pile, and go straight to the trash. My life has become one where I measure success by pounds and armloads of possessions I no longer possess.

I'm enjoying this, on the whole. Over the past few years, we've been slowly, slowly whittling our possessions down to only those things we're using and/or love. We already have considerably less stuff than we did during our last move. It feels good. My goal is to have an uncluttered house, and a more simple lifestyle, whether we move or not. I'm embarrassed half out of my skin that I somehow accumulated this much stuff in the first place. I'm not entirely sure how it happened, either. We have jokes around here that stuff breeds more stuff when we aren't looking, but we don't quite believe that. Not literally, at any rate.

Having the prospect of a move staring us in the face has made it easier to look at things with a different eye. Those afghans I've had since college, I don't even like them anymore. Why are they still here? That odd saucepan under the stove, when did I use it last? How many travel mugs do we need? How many hats and mittens? It's also kicked things into a higher gear, which is probably good.

Since we've been hauling stuff into the house from storage sheds so we can sort in comfort, it doesn't much look like we're making progress. But I have a simultaneous goal of getting out of storage sheds. We're getting there, I think.

There have been some funny moments, like when we found no one wanted to keep a certain bulky chair in the dining room, but hadn't wanted to say so because it was assumed someone else had a sentimental attachment to it. No. We don't want the chair. We have dodged it and squeezed around it all this time simply because of a misunderstanding.

I have also been trying to cull my personal library. This has slowed things down considerably. I have gotten rid of precious few books, but I've been reading like crazy. How can I decide whether I can part with a book unless I read it, or reread it as the case might be? Or, at the very least, browse through it...? :)

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