Whittling Away

It feels like it’s been too long since I’ve been here on this site.  That’s not the plan.  It just takes discipline — like everything else.  I’m working on that.  Content — ideas and words and art — does all keep running around in my head as usual, which I take to be a good thing.  Retirement hasn’t made me shut down ‘upstairs’.  I am just figuring how to fit everything into its place in the ‘typical’ day so I can hit it all…get it all done.  One never does, but I want an effective plan of attack and try to stick to it.  So the bottom line is that it takes order and planning to be creative, which is a little weird.  Anyway…

One big activity in which we are actively engaged:

Whittling away at the accumulation of THINGS that occupy our various spaces and when we get them out and truly look at them, want to overwhelm.  The process of downsizing means taking a hard look at every belonging now and considering what to do with it. Opening boxes of things stored for years. Stuff brought from other places. Stuff put away and not looked at in what seems like forever, but still having ‘meaning’ when you pull it out of the box or whatever other hiding place it had found. Papers, receipts of sentimental events…a dinner, a movie, a sporting event….photos, knick-knacks, clothing, tools, furniture for house and yard and garage and guest room, and don’t forget decoration for every holiday!    And what about all the things that you have because you may someday, at just the right moment, really NEED them. Rainy day…just in case stuff.  Well, we are taking inventory of ALL of these objects and making decisions about where they will end up now. So it comes to sorting it all out and making a little ‘colder’ consideration about it than is typical, because we won’t have the luxury of just putting everything back in a box, and tucking that box away in a certain space. We now want to empty all that space. We don’t want to CARRY those boxes anymore to wherever the wind blows us next.  So, it’s a different type of moment than before. Our options about every physical object now are 1) Sell it on eBay (Isabel’s specialty, thank goodness), 2) sell it on Craigslist (bigger things that would be troublesome to sell), 3) sell it in large yard sale we plan for spring, 4­) donate immediately to Goodwill (our charity of choice for being better to the people in need), 5) toss it out with a certain flair and pity for the trash picker-uppers, 6) keep it with the understanding that it may not make later ‘cuts’…when we get down to the wire of actually moving into a place with smaller dimensions.

One thing that I’m doing is going through files and throwing things out, many of which I scan and store digitally prior to their hitting the trash. I am doing the same with photographs. Again, there are photos and letters and cards that are just too special and we are continuing to store the paper version even after scanning them. For now, at least. There is sadness in this process, certainly, but it is also a time of reliving nice memories, and a pleasant feeling of getting ‘lighter’ in what one possesses and keeps ‘close’, strangely breathing several sighs of relief through the process…you even start to think about the meaning of objects and the place they play in our lives over the decades, or don’t really, we just think that they do. A little philosophical rumination while one blows off the dust accumulating on it all.

The other part of this is the acquisition phase…trying to cut back on that part of our lives too. Rethinking whether we actually NEED something before we buy it…even if something is a good deal…considering long and hard whether we can live without it, so we don’t get to this getting rid of it phase with this thing too.  We obviously have way too much in this country. Just look in any closet or cabinet. We’re not doing all this at once. It is exhausting and while having many moments of exciting rediscovery… “I forgot we had this” and “Where did this even come from?”…somewhat tedious as well….so we take our time and try to accomplish some each day. This is along with the other things we are doing each day. But we do feel like we are making progress.

There is a clever and funny bit that late comedian, George Carlin, did many years ago on just this thing about ‘stuff’ in our lives and space.  Warning: George, despite being a very funny man when observing how we are and what we do, could be a bit ‘crude’ for some people.


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