Minimalism- Part 2
We all have that person, that one friend who we know we can talk to about whatever, whenever. I've had mine for about 48 years so we're pretty well versed in each others' trigger items, pet peeves and in predicting the eruptions. This time it was her turn. She called me about a year ago- she was cleaning out her father in law's home after he'd been moved to a care home. She'd been at it for nearly a month and had at least twice that long still to go, even with a lot of help. Then the light shone down, the scales fell from her eyes about this mess and she blurted out her now sage epiphany: “I'm going home to throw out stuff I've been saving for my boys because you know what? They don't want that stuff anymore than I want his stuff. Nobody wants your shit!”
And there, kids, is true wisdom. Angry wisdom, but wisdom nonetheless. Nobody. Wants. Your. Shit.
I get her predicament. I get it every time I travel to my birth town and see my father’s growing pile of crap that's already heaving from every room, garage, shed, and- wait for it- air-plane hangar. By my estimation, it will take about 2 years of daily work just to get rid of his crap to sell the place. 2 years! Yes, I'm pissed and you should be too if this is going to be your future. What to you may seem like a precious artefact, might be to your victims- I mean heirs- like a hunk of junk. So why force it on them to keep or toss, when this conversation, and subsequent mercy tossing, could all be done while you're still young enough to enjoy more space in your home?
I'm no psychologist but my own dramatic turn away from the material led me to read on the subject in deth to see what makes hoarder candidates tick. And I learned a few things. For some, for example, it's just a nasty habit- buying things they don't need, but want and just can’t stop purchasing, like nail biting but more expensive. For others, there exists a need to impress friends. Some mask depression by purchasing, and others are uber-consumers because they don't think through their purchases; they don't have impulse control. But a theory that I particularly love and, while not universal, at least resonates with me is that some people neglect to find a creative way of solving their problems.
I love that. Broken washing machine? Get a new, better one. The old one was fine, did the job but something is wrong with it so get a new one. I- I'm talking me, girl, me, with no knowledge of washing machines- have literally fixed TWO on my own with no help but YouTube. Have you any idea how much information is out here? I mean, buying a new one just seemed lazy if it wasn’t beyond repair.
I see people accumulate a lot of rainy day stuff, things they might need should something happen. I'm not exagerating when I say that one time- ONE TIME- a few years ago the power went out at my family's house for a few days. Yeah it was a few days but it was the only time ever that power had gone out and it was the result of a freak ice storm. There was a fire, there was plenty of food, no one suffered really anything more than having to put on an extra sweater. But by golly, when the weather got better a brand new “biggest-most-expensive-possible” generator was purchased and installed on a newly poured cement slab, lest it sink into the ground from its own massive weight. It will never ever ever get used, but hey, just in case! Oy.
It doesn't matter why you're collecting and keeping and collecting more and keeping more. Do you ever, as I did, look around at all that and say, “This is a bit crazy.”? So, stop. Stop. Stop. Nobody wants your shit.
There is a solution and the Swedes have found it and use it regularly. It goes like this: Once you reach the end of middle age (or sooner if you feel like it, or later if you’re late to the exercise), you get rid of all the stuff you’ve accumulated that you don’t need anymore — so that no one else has to do it for you after you pass. It's not morbid at all. In fact, it's terribly practical Go through your stuff with your heirs and rather than decide what they get, let them choose what they want. Everything else that you're not using, go ahead a get rid of. The benefits of losing most of your stuff cannot be sung enough. And look, if the Swedes can do this, so can you. Don't have heirs? Then what the hell are you waiting for? Get rid of it and free yourself!
It may not be easy but it is actually simple. And I'm going to disagree with myself. I think it is actually easy once you decide that you can live without a lot of things, but you can't live without living life to the fullest. And that these “things”- this shit no one wants- are probably things you don't require to be happy and comfortable. So bag it, tag it, call them to haul it away. Because my bestie’s wisdom is right, “Nobody wants your shit.”