That Fire Sale on my life I promised back in November of 2012 is nearly over. By this time next week, all of my earthly possessions will either have been sold off at garage sale, placed in a metal container at a self-storage unit, donated to the local humane society, or thrown into the trash.
Downsizing is Not For Sissies
If you really want to experience all of your emotions at the same time, let me suggest that there is nothing quite like putting your hands on every single, solitary thing you own, reliving every memory and feeling you have ever had that’s attached to that thing, and deciding whether or not that thing–along with all of its memories and feelings–will continue to be a part of your life or cast away as useless flotsam upon the ever-receding sea of your finite existence.
If you want to know what downsizing is like, imagine going through the five stages of grief over everything you own. Over that old secretary desk you got at someone else’s garage sale twenty-five years ago, over the finger-painting your four-year old created for your birthday, over a roll of old Madonna and Child Christmas stamps you’ve been saving since the 1980s for some unknown reason you can’t quite explain. And on and on and on it goes.
My husband’s criteria has been very simple. He only asks himself one question:
“Do I ever want to move this thing again?”
Since I have a man to move my things for me–no matter how heavy or unwieldy–physics plays no part whatsoever in my decision-making. For me, it’s all about how I feel. There is a utilitarian component to it though, which is answered by my guiding question:
“Does this thing serve me?”
But that one question leads to many others:
- Does this thing make me happy?
- Does this thing make me sad?
- Will I use this thing again?
- When was the last time I used this thing?
- Is this thing still in the same box I packed it in when we moved to the Mountain eleven years ago?
- Do I like this thing?
- Do I love this thing?
- Have I always hated this thing but never had the courage to get rid of it?
- Will I cry if I put this thing in the pile of things I no longer want?
- Will I have a panic attack if I even dare think about not having this thing anymore? (This is the category that precious finger-painting fell into)
And on this will go until we reach the very last thing, which by my calculation should be sometime this Saturday afternoon.
The Answer is 42
And thus, the first leg of this twisty-turny journey my husband and I began on the second day of January, 2012, will be complete.
Or maybe our journey really began on the day we were born. Did the angels bet God that there was no way on earth these two people, so very, very different, and yet so very much alike, could possibly stay together through thick and thin?
Who knows? Who knows what manner of events, or the timing thereof, conspire to put us on the path to our destinies. Do we even have destinies? Is the trajectory of our lives God-ordained fate–Does Jesus have some wonderful plan for our lives?–or are our lives so entirely random that they are in fact utterly pointless?
It doesn’t matter now. What matters is that we’ve done it. We’ve really done it! We’ve let go of everything that was enslaving us to a life neither of us was happy living. And through it all, time and time again–even when it cost us dearly–we’ve chosen one another over every other consideration.
In November of 2012, we decided to walk away from our house after losing over $200K in equity, post-housing bust. And while there have been some rough patches–including California taking us to the cleaners in taxes–we’ve never looked back. It was without a doubt the best financial decision we could have ever made. Not having any other debt, our credit score barely felt the jiggle. But even so, we were willing to risk it. We were willing to risk everything for a life worth living with each other.
That house, and all of its stuff, was holding us hostage to a life that was making both of us miserable. It, and all of its useless–not-even-worth-moving-again–contents, failed to serve us. And we decided we’d be damned if we’d continue being indentured servants to some things.
Dreams Do Come True
In December of 2011, I had a dream (I know this because I have a post in my drafts file about it that I never published). I dreamed that I woke up and looked out the window of a house I’d never been in before, and everything that was stealing my peace and joy was gone from my life. What I remember most about this dream is how happy I felt. And I clearly remember the words I said to myself in this dream as the sun poured through that window. I said, “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
Maybe Kris Kristofferson was right and freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. All I do know for sure is that right now I have a peaceful, easy feeling.