At the retirement center, there is a “lightly used” shop where the prices can’t be beat. For a song, a buyer can find anything from a couch to a hat. Profits from the shop help residents who have fallen upon hard times, mainly because they’ve outlived their assets. The cause is worthy and I’ve been encouraged by my new friends to visit the enterprise. Unfortunately, doing so would take me down the road I’ve already come.
Before I arrived at the center, I was ruthless about purging my possessions. Nothing stayed my hand. If an items was valuable, I gave it to a friend; if it is was nostalgia, I tossed it, including awards, press interviews and articles I’d once preserved. When it came to hauling that “stuff” to my new home, I realized I didn’t give a fig about posterity.
Susan Gregory Thomas, at half my age, proves to be twice as smart. Though a woman of mid years, she has come to a similar conclusion about “living light.” (The Joy of Wanting Less,” by Susan G. Thomas, More, June, 2015 pgs. 98-101) After moving from a 5 bedroom home to one half the size, sans paintings, antiques and overstuffed furniture, her 13 year-old daughter stretched out on the couch one Saturday afternoon and sighed. “I love this place. It’s so big.” (Ibid pg. 98.)
As Thomas points out, we Americans are used to having more rather than less. Our children represent 3% of the world’s population but we buy 40% of the world’s toys. What’s more, we require 7.3 square feet of storage space for every American while Europeans require .015. (Ibid, pg. 99.)
A few of us are catching on. Instead of dusting grandmother’s antique clock, we’d rather go surfing. The joy of being unburdened may explain why the “Tiny House” trend is growing. No mortgage. If the choice is between a bone china dinner set for 10 or a trip to Paris, people are choosing the latter.
Having passed the 6 month’s mark at the retirement center, I can testify I haven’t missed a single item that I gave or tossed away. In another month, I’ll head for the “lightly used” shop — not to make a purchase — but to donate more. I’m free. I’m free.