The Thing About Stuff


When you know you’re going to put all of your belongings into storage for an undetermined amount of time and then will eventually have to pay to move them across the country, you start questioning what really needs to belong to you. Do I really need to own those cute shoes that I bought on sale 4 years ago and probably wore 4 times? What about Brian’s stacks of old Climbing magazines? How about the mountain of stuffed animals piled up in the playroom? Hmmmm….

As we look around at all of our stuff, we are asking ourselves whether or not it’s worth it to pack it, store it, move it and then unpack it? The answer for most things is, it isn’t. As we prepare for our “100 Ways to Change the World” adventure, we are going through our own personal version of the Keep-Donate-Sell process made famous by the show Clean Sweep. Sadly, I have to admit that most stuff we have isn’t really worth keeping. Which begs the question, why did we buy it in the first place? Here are some examples of this decision making process:

This is a mass-produced metal sculpture I purchased at Target to fill the space above our television. I can’t say I had any artistic attachment to this piece or that I really NEEDED to fill the space above the TV all that much. (I mean, come on. What can’t it just a white wall, right?) I vaguely remember being in a “green” decorating phase at that time and, as you can see, this has some amount of green in it, so I bought it, brought it home, popped a nail into the wall and added this to the ambiance of our living room. Mass-Produced Greenish Circle Sculpture will clearly be a DONATE item because it holds zero value, both fiscally and sentimentally.

This is a dresser that I’ve had since I was 9-years-old. You have no idea how TOTALLY stoked I was when my Grandma Letty bought me a new bedroom set my birthday (Yes, I was a weird kid).  I’ve toted this bedroom set into 3 apartments and 4 houses over the past 17 years. I can argue that it has sentimental value because a woman I love and respect gave it to me…but, does my love and respect for Grandma Letty really diminish if I don’t have this dresser anymore? Definitely not! Sorry, Dresser Circa 1985, you are now a SELL item because you are big, old and outdated. (And I will love Grandma Letty forever even if I don’t have you!)

One last example. This is a fan that I bought on Las Rambla in Barcelona in 2010. It’s kind of ugly and we’re moving to the mountains when we’re done with this trip, so it’s not like we’re going to be in need of a fan to keep ourselves cool. However, I remember this moment in my life perfectly. It was crazy hot, we’d just gotten off the subway and we were herding 3 young children through a chaotic mass of humanity. One daughter was crying over the scary living statues Las Rambla is so famous for, the other was in MAJOR need of a diaper change and the third was in LOVE with this fan. “Please, Mommy, please!!” I needed something positive to come into this crazy moment, so I caved. (And did I mention it was crazy hot?) As we were buying it, the local policia started walking up, so the unlicensed vendor threw the fan at us, gathered up his blanket of wares and sprinted off into the crowd. My daughter looked at me and exclaimed “Cool! Free fan!”  Cheesy Barcelona Fan, you shall live in the Carisch family forever!

This gives you a taste of what we’re doing right now. Maybe it’s something to think about doing even if you aren’t going to be storing all of your possessions for an undetermined amount of time and moving them across country. Looking at the things you have and deciding if they are truly worth keeping in your life is turning out to be a cathartic and valuable experience for our family.

 

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