As we shuffle the last of our possessions about, I am amazed at how far we’ve come. Not even two years ago we were spread wide across two states.
Here in Cincinnati we had our house and, a few miles away, a 6,000 sq.ft warehouse/studio full of photography equipment, woodworking machinery, shelves of hand tools and timber framing tools, hundreds of board feet of lumber, sea kayaks, a canoe, snowshoes, skis, bikes, a half dozen tents and totes full of camping, climbing, and sailing gear. Honestly I can’t even imagine how I filled it, but I did.
Back in Maine, where we lived from 2000-2012, we still owned a farmhouse on 36 acres. On the farm we had tractors, sailboats, trailers, a yurt, and a barn full of things that never made the move to Ohio.
In roughly a week, everything that we own will either be with us on the boat or in this 150 Sq.Ft. storage unit. The bulk of the things in storage are furniture I made for the kids over the years, and some of the tools I used to create them, together with a dozen or so totes of books and photos and family memories and keepsakes we couldn’t part with. Still to move in are a leather couch and chair and possibly our bed, but that is it, that’s all that remains.
Getting from there to here has not been a simple process. Then, I would never have imagined we would be here. For all that was required emotionally in coming to terms with downsizing, the physical process of shedding such accumulation has been harder still.
For the warehouse we brought in an online estate sale company who handled everything and we walked away from most everything we had been holding on to. Next we sold the farm in Maine, and sold out boats and yurt, then we began on the house and a 300 sq.ft storage unit we rented after the warehouse was gone.
What I wouldn’t have imagined at the onset was the feeling of utter liberation I would feel each time something left. At this point, we are basically creating piles and either donating them to various charities or simply putting them out and inviting neighbors to come take whatever they want.
I know that many of the things we are giving away have value, but after more than a year of estate sales, Ebay, and listing items for sale on various websites and yahoo groups, the value to me that comes from not owning them any longer outweighs the money I might get. I just want it gone and I don’t want it taking up space in my mind or activities. I can’t wait to be on the boat in part because it will mean that this long drawn out phase is over. It is an odd reality.
Until I began to rid myself of my possessions, I hadn’t realized how much they weighed me down. The dollars I spend finding places for them to sit, the moving them from place to place, the worry that something might happen to them – all these things required energy, both physically and emotionally, and without them, I feel so much freer.
While not quite a hoarder, I have moved about, and stored in various places, boxes of things I haven’t used in years, even decades. Everything had a story and, as my mind is particularly wired to do, I could recall very specific things about people, places, and events from all points of my life.
As a life long sentimental soul, at some point in this ‘purge’ journey, I took on a ruthless, detached stance with regard to the items I had accumulated. I think it was necessary at first to start filling that first box of construction trash bags, but it continues and I have found it personally freeing.
It is not quite over, but we are a good bit further towards a minimalist’s existence than I imagined possible. From here, I not only see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I also embrace and welcome the transition to the other side.