Greetings from Palomar Mountain! We are enjoying a sunny day and beginning to anticipate our move in about three weeks. Our wild luffas are drying nicely on the porch and my egg-crate seedlings are sprouting! Probably not too impressive but it really is magical to plant seeds and watch them pop out of the soil overnight: “ta-dah!” they say. My radishes are doing well too. I may get to eat them before we leave. I’ve got a little polyculture in an egg carton!
Lately, I’ve been doing a little eliminating. My Spring Cleaning agenda: downsize my stuff from a 5×5 unit to a 4×4 storage unit. They don’t get much smaller. Ideally I would not have a storage unit, but I do. One step at a time.
I moved in to my first unit just after college when I decided to go the traveling route, with no real home base or permanent job. I didn’t want to say good-bye to my teddy bears and medals. I have always been a saver. I hated throwing things away, even as a youngster. I found sentimental value in everything, and saved it all: from ticket stubs to report cards. I even remember going to the Wild Animal Park when I was about 8 and hearing some startling statistics about recycling. I was hooked and have been recycling ever since. I also have a box full of 20 journals I’ve filled over the years. Can’t get rid of those. Oh, and TY Beanie Babies. Remember those? I collected about 50 of them when I was 13, knowing that they’d be worth a lot of money some day. Right. I’m not sure if I could give those away now. And yet I still have a box of them sitting in my storage unit.
I managed to acquire more things since college, like statues from Africa, several dozen scarves from Israel, and dolls from around the world. I thought: oh, I have a storage unit. I can get more things. Like a big drum I made in Belize. All of my backpacking gear. Books. Lots of books.
I started out paying about $40 per month for storage. I figured that since I didn’t pay rent anywhere, it would be my “rent”. Not too bad. Eventually the price creeped up to $64 a month. And then I started thinking: how much money have I spent on storing things in the last 7 years? It comes out to somewhere between $3500 and $4000. So far. I thought: hmm. More than half of the stuff in that unit does not have sentimental value, and could have been bought at a time in my life when I would actually use it, and for a price less than what I’ve spent storing it. The value of these things increases each month as I pay to store it, although most of the time I can’t remember what I have. There’s something wrong with this.
It’s an interesting thing: this attachment we have to stuff. Some things I store because I see myself getting some good use out of it in the future, like my bike, breadmaker and dehydrator. But these are things I can find (or make) at a time when I will actually use them. Other things I keep because it reminds me of something. But really: how many times do I need to look at my 6th place swim team ribbons? And books. I love books. How many times am I going to read the same books, however, when there are so many others to read? And with libraries and kindles these days, who needs tons of books? DVD’s? Netflix! Clothes? If I don’t need to wear them today, and haven’t worn them in 7 years, I probably don’t need them.
I found a smaller storage unit a couple of weeks ago for $16 per month. That’s $192 per year. Quite the improvement. This will allow me to keep my journals and pictures and statues from Africa, but not everything. So I’ve been slowly going through it all. The hard part is finding good homes for the things I don’t want anymore. I don’t want to send it all to the landfill. Some things can find new homes at a thrift store, others cannot. I have a very hard time throwing things away, so unless I can find a good home for things, I end up saving them. I was inspired recently by a couple who got rid of anything they couldn’t fit in their car, even photos. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that, but at least it’s good to start detaching myself from things. I got rid of a lot of clothes and all of my ribbons and medals yesterday. It feels good.
I decided to ask myself questions like: Do I ever see myself using this again? Will I be able to use this on my farm some day? I still need to find a place for my beanie babies and my bike. Having a smaller space to store things will help me keep from buying things I don’t need. I hope.