Let’s all take a second and meditate on this image, shall we?
I first saw this yesterday on a dear friend’s Facebook page, and I’ve been chewing on it ever since, partly because it’s one of those Really, Really True Things, and partly because it feels a little bit like a poke in the head by the Cosmos. Here’s why:
1. Moon Man and I have been talking more and more about downsizing–we currently live in a home that could easily house 4-6 people, and that’s just a ridiculous amount of wasted space; and we are paying a frankly hilarious amount of money each month toward the mortgage, which I acknowledge to be a necessary evil in some ways, but really, I can think of uses for part of that money that would be way more entertaining, philanthropic, or delicious (just imagine how much cake you could get if you cut your mortgage, say, in half!).
2. It’s coming up on tags-and-taxes time for Mom’s car, which means someone needs to find some spare money in a hurry, and thanks to the heat and drought this year, I haven’t managed to grow a money tree in the backyard yet, so we’re thinking “garage sale”.
3. …Which would be easier if we hadn’t just given an entire carload of nouns to a friend’s garage sale, so at first glance, we’re all out of sale-able nouns.
But here’s the thing: we’re nowhere near being out of saleable nouns. Right now, if the Magic Mortgage Fairy offered to buy this house from us for a sum large enough to match what’s left on our loan and provide a little seed money for a down payment on a smaller place, and if the Little Cottage on the Prairie Fairy (ooh! that rhymed.) had a delightful bungalow on some beautiful acreage all lined up and ready to go, we’d need, like, a fleet of trucks and a couple of outbuildings to store all our stuff.
This, kids, is madness. And if I think about it–if I sit down with each noun in this house and really think about why it’s here–a solid 50-60% of our possessions are floating around this place because of fear.
There are the surplus plates and bowls and silverware we keep around in case we have dinner guests drop by unexpectedly. But here’s the deal: if you know us well enough to “drop by for dinner” without calling first, then you can ruddy well eat off whatever dishes we scrounge up. It might mean eating steak off a Tupperware lid, or cauliflower out of a bowl. If this would wreck your perception of us as people, you’re probably not actually on the “feel free to drop by, unannounced, anytime” list. Maybe we can just go ahead and trust that our real friends will continue to love us even if they have to eat straight out of the pan.
There are the hundreds of books we have on our shelves, both because we’re total book addicts but also because they’re a sort of badge of identity: “Look!”, they shout, “We’re smart book people!”. But if you can’t figure that out from conversing with us, then we could line the entire house with stuffed-to-bursting bookshelves and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Maybe we can release some of them, rather than clinging to them for fear that someone will misunderstand who we are as human beings.
There are the dozen-odd bottles of lotion I’d kept lying around, all in various fragrances and all making various promises on the labels, because I never could find one I really loved but figured having something that was Merely Acceptable was better than having nothing at all. I gave a lot of them to Mom when she came to visit yesterday, because maybe I can just go ahead and believe that people will still like me even if I have dry elbows. (And besides, I’ve gotten all hooked on making homemade beauty products. I just need to pick up some coconut oil, and I can make all the lotion I could possibly want, in whatever fragrance makes me happy.)
…I could do this all day, really, and it’s a pretty ludicrous list when you look at it through the “what Horrible Awful Soul-Tormenting Outcome am I trying to prevent by keeping this item?” lens. Yes, there are nouns that we choose to keep around us because we love them, and that’s fair game; and yes, there are nouns that we keep because it’s really not such a bad idea to have a Plan B; and yes, there are nouns that we keep around us because we need things like weed-whackers and chainsaws, and our neighborhood is nowhere near groovy enough to go for the “let’s all share all our power tools” arrangement.
But then there are the things we cling to out of a warped sense of the ways in which our world could fall apart if we don’t keep them. And if, by selling them, I can take some steps toward freeing myself from a life of clutter and fear, then good grief, man, get me some Yard Sale signs and let’s get this thing started today.
So over the next few weeks, I’ll be going through this house like a woman on a mission: a mission to raise money for Mom’s tags’n’taxes; a mission to declutter so we’re ready for the Little Cottage on the Prairie Fairy; and, god help me, a mission to start living from a place of decisive intent, and not from a place of fear.