the Great Shrinken-ing

This morning I visited a woman’s home who had offered household furnishings on our local freecycle. Although her posting was about a half-dozen specific items, on my arrival at her little bungalow she told me she was having trouble making decisions on what to keep and what to dispose of, and how to dispose of it, for an impending move – and was thus almost desperate to siphon off anything in her home that someone would genuinely want. She was a bit of a Hoarder – one piece of furniture she was now offering had been found on the side of the road, and now she had to find a place for it to go. “It’s a real good lesson,” she tells me soberly, “about what you take into your life.” I relieved her of a pretty but modest floor lamp, and on the way out the door a Madeline doll for my son. I wished her well with her move and gave her my phone number should she want help when the time came.

I thought to myself how few people “get it” at all. They hunger for more, and better, and what everyone else seems to have (“My daughter needs new shoes”, “I need some ‘decent clothes'”, etc). My recently-acquired personal knowledge is that I have never truly regretted any move (however drastic) I have made toward downsizing my possessions. Two weeks ago we got rid of more than 2/3 our kitchen items, carefully keeping one frying pan, one stockpot, and so on. A friend called into question my decision and asked what I’m going to do for large gatherings. But I’m thinking to myself about women who cook for larger families than mine using a clay stove and a hubcap. I can do it. I’m also thinking those women would have clawed through our cast-away kitchen utensils like ravenous wolves.

And that’s an important point. A woman or family in a position of true poverty really does benefit from material possessions. But I am not that woman. And my posessions, if I’m honest, can often serve to deteriorate my quality of life and my spiritual nature. At this point in my life I need to look for less “stuff” and use my relative privilege to think of what I’m providing and who I’m providing it for. And, when I do consume something or indulge myself, to have more of a spirit of reverence and calm for the bounty we’ve been provided.

As anyone who knows me will agree, I still have a long way to go on the way to being the Reigning Zen-Mama of Simple Living. I have some really embarrassing habits – such as buying an expensive coffee every day and yes, using a new disposable paper cup nearly every time. I have a home full of crap. Yeah, I have less than my contemporaries due to a constant paring down my husband and I have adopted – but it won’t fit into a couple truckloads, like our possessions did when we first moved in (kidless, of course).

But I’m trying to let it go. To winnow it down. One item at a time. Until, perhaps one day not so far away, my home is full of peace.

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