Saturday, August 16, 2014

Yard Sale

We had a yard sale a few weeks ago. A whole year of setting aside our belongings had contributed to a significant pile in each room of our house. They were eyesores for sure but acted as a persistent reminder of our intentional plans.

All in all, it was a good day. I hope these items are finding usefulness in others' lives. We sold enough of our belongings to pay half our mortgage for the month. We gave the leftovers away to random passersby in need and then donated the rest to local charities. I thought we'd done pretty well. But when I walked inside our house that night, it seemed to me like we hadn't gotten rid of anything at all!

That clearly told me something important that I already knew - we have way too much stuff! We're now on round two of our purge. I'll write more about this process later.

What's striking me now is how I refer to these things as "belongings". How significant these things are in my life! Without thinking, I extract value from the things I own and assign it to myself. I treat my things as an extension of my self. Is this a natural way of looking at my place in the world or a construct that modern society has me thinking is necessary to my being, to my worth?

I can't begin to tell you how much I really don't like advertising being as prevalent as it is. I thought that I could escape it by not subscribing to cable TV. That worked in the 90s. As marketing has carpet bombed the internet, it's impossible for me to escape it now. I appreciate a company's desire to let the public know about their products. What I don't like is the pressure it puts on me to live a certain way (with lots of stuff) or be a certain type of person (with lots of stuff).

We now have a new rule in our house. We will only purchase something if it is either 1 - consumable or 2 - a replacement for something worn out or broken that we absolutely need. We can still get that bottle of wine for Friday night dinner with friends, but for the most part we've put a freeze on expanding our possessions.

That's funny - the other word I use for my stuff is "possessions". I wonder though, do I possess them, or do they possess me?

Today this whole process has been a little overwhelming, honestly. I'm not sure where to start, and I can't even come up with a plan or a priority list. And my car needs work and our roof is leaking. So I guess it's no surprise that I'm not getting a lot done. Maybe I just need a break today, and my energy will return tomorrow.

In the meantime, I need to figure out which of my six purple tee shirts will make it to the "keep" pile.