I have sold more than half of my stuff. I have sold all of my motorcycles, my furniture, many household decorations, and several small appliances. I have given away food, spices, items from the fridge or freezer. I have packed away my beloved Fiestaware and beer glasses, my spice containers, my winter coats and the last of my clothes. My storage unit it packed tight.
As each item has gone out the door, to new owners, to a new home, to a new place, I have feelings. As each item gets packed into a box, stuffed away in a garbage bag or lovingly placed between the walls of the storage unit, as each item is laid to rest or leaves my life I am flooded with a memory. Each item has had a place in my life, a purpose, a reason it was there to begin with. Some of these items have been with me since childhood and some only a few months. Some of these items went on long and grand journeys with me, and some sat in the corner only to be used once or twice per year.
Letting go of these items has been hard. It is like saying farewell to a part of my life, putting away a memory, letting go of a certain experience through which I lived or place that I spent time. Some of the items left my life to make new memories with others, and some are now safely tucked away in a box for later appreciation. To be honest, some are now in a trash heap or died a painless death in the recycle bin.
These items feel like friends. I shared something with them. We shared times, adventures. They watched me live, stood witness to who was, where I was housed, what I was doing or with whom. To me, we shared a part of my life.
But, let’s get real. These are items. They have no feelings, no thoughts, no emotions, no voice. These are pieces of metal, plastic and wood that have been put together to make a machine, a piece of furniture, or a utensil for me to use. They are things. I am the one with the memories. I am the one with the emotions. I am the one who attaches the meaning to the object. I am the one who feels.
Selling and packing my things has taken me on an extensive journey through time. Touching or reading each item, using it one last time causes me to relive that part of my life, that memory. These things, these friends, have shared a part of me and a part of my life as I have known it. They have meaning. A meaning I have assigned.
I have stories and memories and pictures that involve these items. Me with the item, using the item, or seated nearby the item. I have a photo from the Christmas in which I received a beauty kit as a kid and the hand mirror I still use. I have the photos of the bike trips, but I no longer have the bikes. I have my books that, even though I have not read them all, their presence in my life gives me great comfort and joy.
I have been flooded with nostalgia during this time of downsizing. I may be reducing that which I own, but the process has caused a dramatic increase in my walk through and down memory lane. Decreasing my stuff only to increase my emotional responses.
I am happy to put the money in my pocket, happy to know some beloved item is safely tucked away. I am happy to know most items will find a new life, a new joy, and will have a purpose with its new owner. That joy I had, that memory I created can now be passed on to someone else. The item, on the other hand, has no idea what is happening. The items do not smell the new house, see the change in environment, or hear the new voices in the room. They are things. They are oblivious.
Me, myself, I am the person. I am the keeper of the experience, of the memory, of the good feelings associated with the item or the adventure. I am the one who is reliving the time with that item, or the journey we shared. I am the person left behind with the initial emotional rush, only to be left with the ensuing void. I am the only part of this relationship that is alive, that can retain, that remembers, that feels.
I am selling my things, I am storing my possessions. I am reliving the moments, the adventures, the trials and the joys of my life. Through the packing and selling of these things I am reliving it all. The items are a trigger for a moment, for a memory, or an adventure, for a tear or for a laugh. This is an emotional response to a difficult process. This is not just about stuff. This is about me. I am on a journey and, apparently, it starts with a walk through my life thus far. The end of one part starts with the beginning of another, or perhaps it is the other way around where the beginning of one part starts with the end of another. I am not sure which way is which, but I think both apply.
My stuff, my friends. My memories, my journey. My experiences as I have lived them. I can sell my stuff, pack it away, donate it or burn it. I can do anything I want with the stuff. But, I can never, ever get rid of the memories, the experiences, the laughs or the tears. I cannot throw away that adventure or the time shared. After all, stuff is just stuff but memories and experiences last forever. Those are where we are most human. That is where we truly live.
Farewell, dear stuff! Farewell to that time, that place, that part of my life we shared. If I see you again, it will be in a new time, in a new place, with a new perspective. May you enjoy your next chapter as much as I intend to enjoy mine.