It’s Just Stuff

11 Jul

lamp

Today I sold the first Thing I Really Liked in preparation for our move to Wales. It was an orange table lamp — nothing fancy, just something I got at Marshall’s a year back. But I really did like it, a lot. I liked the color, I liked the shape, I liked that it allowed me to read at night without the full brightness of an overhead light. But in the end? It’s just a lamp. A lamp that is definitely not worth shipping over to the UK (did you know it costs about $50 to mail a 20 pound, 12 inch box from the US to the UK?).

I’ve already been thinking a lot about “stuff” over the past year — in some ways, it’s been really freeing. Trips to Target are a breeze (no point in walking by the fun, seasonal housewares), the only thing I’ve been looking for in thrift stores is large suitcases, and wandering in antique stores is admiration-only. Knowing that there’s no point in buying anything has freed up a surprising amount of space in my brain (and my wallet). I’ve seen a number of different blogging experiments about buying nothing for a month, wearing a limited amount of clothing, and whittling down possessions to 100 things, all of which I enjoy reading about (especially as the process unfolds). While this isn’t anything official like that, it is a challenge in its own manner. The rules?

1. Take a one bedroom, moderately furnished apartment…
2. Reduce it down to two large suitcases and two carry-on bags!
(plus five or so boxes that will be kept in storage with family — but for how long, we have no idea) 

It won’t be easy, I’m sure of that. But as I’ve walked around our apartment during the past few months, it’s amazing how few things I really find myself needing to hold on to. Because in the end, it’s just stuff. Honestly, most of it is pretty inexpensive, its value drawn only from the time spent discovering it at a yard sale, flea market or thrift store.

I’d like to keep track of how things go, but of course that will depend on how crazy it gets as we go through the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m incredibly inspired by Francine Jay (the author of The Joy of Less). I read her blog and book over a year ago and while she’s definitely on the extreme end of minimalism, her posts have really helped me better release my hold on “stuff.” She did an international move herself, and she and her husband left with just two suitcases and two boxes of clothes/books. You can read a post-mortem on their move over at her blog.

It’s easy to become super-attached to our stuff, thinking about where we’ll store it, how we’ll take care of it, and what happens if it breaks. But in the end, stuff is pretty low on the totem pole of Things That Actually Matter. I pray that over the next few months, even as we do purge much of what we own, my focus will be on enjoying the time spent with friends and family and experiencing my favorite things about St. Augustine — rather than worrying about the stuff and the process of getting rid of it.

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3 Responses to “It’s Just Stuff”

  1. Stephanie Brooks 11. Jul, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Very well written. Inspiring. And I must be emotional today, because it brought tears to my eyes, too. : )

  2. Carol 11. Jul, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    That’s a very wise observation that you just made, Crystal. Stuff isn’t really the most important. I think about all the stuff I had at 30, and all the stuff I have now, and how it has grown exponentially with the addition of things from two sets of parents’ estates. I think you go through life accumulating things and mementos, then you go through the process of downsizing the things as you grow older. That is the rhythm of life. So thrilled for you and your upcoming adventures. Your life is filled with so many new things right now, you won’t miss the stuff!

  3. brittany 11. Jul, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    love that lamp! wish i had payed attention and bought it:) in the process of cleaning all our house out, too, though not on such an extreme level! excited to follow yall on this new journey!

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