Moving a family of five from a six bedroom/four bathroom house to a two bedroom/one bathroom condo has been an adventure. Mostly, it’s been great. Clearly, we have too much stuff I don’t need. There’s only one bathroom to clean and only so much furniture to dust. Certainly privacy is a challenge, but the cramped space inspires walks and headphones. I’ve gotten to know my neighborhood better, spend more time in public parks and there’s a restaurant down the street with a private restroom stall if I get desperate for a semblance of peace.
Most strikingly, we have a tremendous amount of less stuff. I’ve never been big into knickknacks anyway, but you live long enough, you accumulate a righteous amount of stuff. It’s inevitable. It’s also suffocating. When I was packing boxes for transport or storage, I adhered to the adage that if I hadn’t touched it for five years, it was destined for Goodwill where someone else could get some use out of it. The other question I asked myself was, “Do I truly love this thing?” If the answer was no, I purged it.
Sometimes I feel hostage to the things in my life. Case in point: the Noritake china endowed to me via first wedding gifts when I was 25 years old. The china has a very impractical fancy gold rim that prevents me from washing it in the dishwasher. It also scratches easily and makes me nervous to wash for fear of breaking it. What was I thinking? I don’t have time in my life for dishes that don’t play well in the dishwasher. The expensive dishes are not conducive to my lifestyle. And really, they never were. Instead of just not using them like a normal person, I forced myself to use them at least twice a year without fail. Penance for poor youthful choices. I felt compelled to use the dishes because there they were and what kind of ungrateful asshole would I be if I didn’t use my nice things? I fell victim to the parental admonition to eat everything on my plate because there were children starving in China. And if I had a $50 plate to eat my precious meal on, I should consider myself luckier than most. A-hole indeed.
Realizing reselling the dishes for a quarter of what they were worth was unpalatable, so I boxed them up for future generations. And with that, the spell was broken. I no longer feel compelled to use them, and it feels stupidly awesome.