He has the most who is most content with the least.
(attributed to) Diogenes
The problem with minimalism has always seemed to be that its visible proponents are single. Not terribly practical when one has small children, a personal library and multiple hobbies. But, after having already downsized our belongings to move halfway across the country (from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic), being reunited with the hubby, and then finding out three weeks later that he’s getting sent to the Pacific NW, it seems that we have too much stuff to travel in a Toyota Corolla with two small children in the back (don’t laugh, at least I get 36 mpg). Everything the hubby has needs to fit in a suitcase to fly, and everything we need has to fit in the car or on the roof rack.
Wow. Thats…hard. We are far from packrats–six years in the military taught us the virtue of keeping The Stuff reasonable, but two kids and two bibliophiles still have a lot of gear. And so, everything must go. The hubby sold his entire Warhammer 40K hobby off to a pair of thankful and broke college students via Craigslist. We donated two tubs of our religion and spirituality books to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship we’ve been attending when we’ve been in town. And, most recently, we participated in the community yard sale, off loaded some of our things for some cash and donated what was left to the community children’s hospital thrift store.
We still have more to go–the cost of fuel being what it is means that it is cheaper to sell the bikes and get new ones down the line than it is to drive them from sea to shining sea. While we pared down an impressive 4 large boxes of books, that was only about half the books that we had here, and a quarter of our books overall. The grown ups were not the only ones that downsized–the scooter and the tricycle (which went to two grandmothers for their grandchildren), giant Tigger (who went to a *very* excited little boy and a chagrined daddy that was taking him for a walk), the kid’s library (which mostly went to a young teacher, whom otherwise would not have been able to afford the stack of books for her special ed classroom) all were sold as well. Sharkbait, being 2, barely noticed…but Chickadee, at four, wasn’t so sure about letting other people take our things (but by the time she got used to the idea, she drove quite the hard bargain and had some mad sales skills with her cuteness!).
I can’t blame her. Letting go is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn. We become very attached to these hunks of plastic and metal and paper and wood that we somehow let define who we are, or how we want to represent ourselves. The hubby and I are having to make some very hard decisions in a very short time–from the content and structure of our family library to what sort of impact we want what we keep (and eventually what we buy) to make to downsizing the wardrobe (and what clothes *do* we need for the Seattle area’s climate?). We have even more things to get done–from digitizing the pictures we want to keep (and eventually organizing our digital clutter) to scanning or typing the recipes and projects from books we don’t plan to keep, to constructively downsizing the toy box.
With each thing that goes, it gets easier to let the next thing go. And its really quite freeing. Our goal is not just to whittle down our belongings for moving, but to decide how we can live more simply in a way that is meaningful for our family (we have no desire to see how few things we can live with, lol). I’ve always been a fan of thrift stores, freecycle or Craigslist as a means of acquisition and unloading things that are no longer needed, but we’ve never downsized in such volume before. I suppose its a good thing we are getting used to this now…half of our stuff is still back in the Midwest, so we’ll be at it again there in a few weeks!
Hubby’s Seattle job ended up being temporary and he was transferred back to Virginia (yay!). I still don’t mind having gotten rid of all that stuff…though we seem to have replaced some of it with new stuff.