365 days of paring down and letting go…of “stuff”

By Susan Caba
The Resale Evangelista

I’m trying to simplify my life. Well, I’m trying to want to simplify my life.Max's Russian rockinghorseIMG_2577

I used to love accumulating “stuff.” Now I’m getting rid of it. Okay, maybe not all of it…most…I’m keeping just the good stuff. I don’t need more of anything. I don’t even need all that I have.

It’s time to–as they say in the art collecting biz–de-accession. Purge. My son is almost out of college. I want to travel the world again. I want to live in a place I can lock up and leave without worry.

To do that, I have to get rid of things. Lots of things. And not just the things, but the emotions, associations, memories, history and hang-ups they represent.

Take my dining room table (please—take it, I beg you). Big, round, oak, capacious enough to seat 16 at Thanksgiving, the table originally belonged to my great-grandmother. It dominated the dining room in the house in which my mother was raised. The table is too big for my current life and it’s not my style. But I can’t sell it and I certainly can’t junk it. I have to place it, preferably with a family member. I’m now trolling maternal cousins and their children, seeking an appreciative home for the table.

There’s the painted Russian rocking horse my mother gave me when my son was born. I’ve been saving the rocking horse for his first child. Max is 22. Gestation is at least a decade in the future. I have a woven brown place mat that was part of a wedding present to my parents, 60 years ago. I remember using those place mats as a child but I have no idea how I ended up with this one.

My late Aunt Rosemary crafted a Pinocchio marionette from felt and string for one of my brothers, who is now 50-something.  That Pinocchio, with his jaunty orange hat and emerald green vest, is a work of folk art. (Oy. I’m so attached to that Pinocchio that, when I went to make a photograph just now, I couldn’t find him. But he’s important. Really.)

You see my problem, right? I swear I’m not a hoarder. I’m not even overtly sentimental. But I’ve somehow come to imbue certain objects with meaning and emotion.

Not only that, I like “stuff” for its own sake. I’m creative and see the potential in the odd find at Goodwill. I appreciate a bargain—do you know how easy it is to find brand-new designer clothing at resale shops (never mind that I spend most of my days in tee-shirts and jeans).

And then there’s my ability to flip a thrift store purchase for profit. I’m successful, for the most part. Of course, there are the few items that linger…and linger…and linger in the garage. I’ll get around eventually to telling you about the Bowflex, the Victorian dresser and six brass oil cans.

So here’s my Black Friday pledge: I’m going to spend the next 365 days fighting my urge to acquire. I’m going to dedicate myself to paring down, editing, letting go of “stuff.” Some of that stuff will, I’m sure, be trash. Some will be treasures that I’ll hate to ditch.

My goal is to find myself lighter next Thanksgiving, more free, more attuned to my actual feelings, rather than my attachments to things that represent those feelings.

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