Revving up to pare down
Posted on October 11th, 2017
If it were up to me, I’d sell everything we owned (well, mostly) and live in a 32′ tiny house. Obviously it’s not up to me (although I managed to get consensus on the loft back in 2010), and obviously even a tiny house costs money. But it’s something I’m working toward.
Because I am the designated caretaker of the things in the house, people assume I’m the one who likes stuff. I don’t. Sure, I like my books. But most of this stuff isn’t mine; it’s stuff I’m dealing with because other people aren’t ready to say goodbye to it yet. But some days it’s all I can do not to gather things up into a giant trash bag and throw them away. (Some days I’m limited by the size of the trash can.)
My parents are hoarders. I’m sorry, collectors. When the shelves and closets are full of rare books and art and antiquities and guns, the owners are collectors. Whatever. (The stacks of stuff are just as dangerous.) I also once made the point that our family was too poor to be eccentric–we’re just crazy. (My father put it in a sermon. He hoards anecdotes, too.)
In any case: I am the only person in my family who donates and sells things, particularly books. Lots of people sneer about people who hoard things without stopping to think that it’s more than just a type of obsession. Lots of people have too much stuff because it’s too hard to get rid of it. If you’re having trouble finding the energy to call the doctor to make an appointment, how likely are you to start filling boxes of stuff to donate? (If you can’t understand how it can be hard to make a simple phone call, you might want to work on that empathy thing.)
Anyway: my experience is there’s a certain baseline mental state to have the wherewithal to downsize. If I’m depressed, it’s very hard for me to go through my process. If it’s above and beyond a normal purge (e.g., remaking a room), it’s exhausting. It takes energy to box things up and donate them. It takes energy to take pictures of things and list them on eBay. It’d be nice to see more compassion with this: if someone is depressed, it might be the best thing in the world for them to get rid of things weighing them down. But they’re probably the person least able to do it (and paring down possessions isn’t a thing you can do for another person, although I’m sure people do it anyway).
The point: it feels GREAT to finally be back at the point where I have energy to sell and donate and pare down. Tiny house, I’m coming for you.