Moving Week

Keep it or throw it?

I’ll ask myself that question a hundred times or more this week, and if I’m right at least half the time, I’m a winner!

Yes, moves are stressful. This will be my eighth move in six years. No, I’m not a gypsy; I’m not being pursued by creditors; I love my neighbors as myself.

Each move has been circumstantial. Divorce. Fresh start. Better accommodations. Lower rent. Playing house. And every relocation has resulted in at least one positive: downsizing.

Most of us have way too many possessions. Better yet, most of us own a horde of crap. Most of us can’t let go. Most of us, and I am a common offender, empty and reload. I don’t know why I can’t reduce and stay that way. Kind of like my body weight. Actually just like my body weight, now that I think about it.

My wife, Lisa, and I started in earnest yesterday—Saturday—to pack. We are to be out of our apartment in four days—that’s Wednesday. We are moving into the Boise residence of a lovely couple from Oregon, to become their house sitters, for let’s say five months or less. We’ll have our own bedroom and bathroom and share the rest of the relatively small house one week a month with our Lord and Lady of the Land. I can’t share details of the arrangement, but trust me when I say it’s a “win-win” for both parties.

So, our goal is to take what we need to the house; put “valuable” and sentimental stuff into an existing 10-foot-wide by 15-foot-deep storage unit; and give the rest of our belongings away. It’s great to see the look on a friend’s face when you say, “I don’t want anything for it; you enjoy it for a while and then pay it forward.” We’ll make our goal, even if it turns out that we should have sold some of the items, even if we do save a bit too much because we’re not quite prepared to let go. Not yet.

As many have told me, when in doubt, take a picture of an item “on the bubble.” If it’s given away, you’ll still have a reminder and can keep those memories fresh in the present.

What has to happen in any joint move is the offer of decency and respect towards one another. No insults, tacit or implicit, about each others belongings or reasons for keeping them. No second guessing, unless asked. No eye rolling. Allow each other to wax nostalgic over a piece of formed clay, a crayon drawing, or a cheap piece of furniture. It’s just stuff and if it can all fit into the storage bin, just concede. Don’t argue over material goods. Fight over infidelity or reckless gambling—something big—if such a life-sucking monster ever tests your marital mettle.

We only have one lifetime to cherish something. You can’t take it with you. Oh, it’s sentimental, precious, or otherwise valuable? Worth too much to just give away to someone other than a family member? Then let your children have it now if you don’t use it. Let them enjoy it while you can see them do so.

Once this concept is grasped, a person is truly set free: less is more.

Stuart Hotchkiss
August 9, 2015

Update: While we did move into our new home on schedule, we just moved the last item—a black, portable Oreck vacuum cleaner—out of our apartment at 10:14PM MDT on Sunday, August 16, 2015. It was just one more offering left at the makeshift altar, also known as the dumpster.

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