Sunday, April 18, 2010

Your stuff owns you.

Most people would say I'm a bit of a weirdo. I don't mention it often, but I truly, deeply miss the days when everything I owned fit in the back of a Mazda 626.

Not only am I excited by the prospect of living out of a suitcase for a couple months while we find our new home in Japan, I'm actually looking forward to having a bunch of our belongings out of our lives completely for a couple years. As I was telling my Dad tonight, I could even see coming to the end of our overseas adventures and just telling the Navy, "All that stuff in storage? Throw it in the river, I don't even remember what it is, much less want it back."

This is not, by any means, all the stuff we have going into storage -- it's not even a third. Nor is it particularly a lot of stuff. AT least double this volume of stuff has been donated or thrown out since we found out we'd be moving to Japan. But it really got me thinking -- if we don't need these things for a couple years, why did we ever need them at all?

There's more than one answer to that question -- the most obvious is that in big houses like the ones we've lived in the past 5 years, there's zero opportunity cost to having triple the number of coffee cups we actually need, appropriate glassware for red wine, white wine and 5 different varieties of beer, a pasta maker, three rubbermaid totes of Christmas decorations we haven't used in years and a box of fortune cookies from our wedding.

There's no logic to this -- if these items are all unnecessary today, then certainly they were spurious yesterday and there's no reason I couldn't have dumped them at the curb before we ever had orders. An overseas move with a strict weight allowance and the possibility of losing 1000 square feet of house at the other end separates the necessary from the clutter very quickly.

As hard as it's been for me to keep a clean home while our house has been on the market the past few weeks, the lack of clutter has really reinforced how much my belongings bring me down.

I think about this all the time, but I really need to write about it some more. Not tonight, though -- the movers will be here early in the morning and the prep still isn't done; there's closets and an attic full of items going to storage, still mocking me. Hopefully the movers work slowly tomorrow.


John said...

"a box of fortune cookies from our wedding"

Yeah. I'd say that's got to be near the top of the list of things you don't need.

Keep 2 for sentimental reasons and toss the rest for cripes sake.

Jenny said...

I should have mentioned this weeks ago, but it completely slipped my mind! I recently mentioned you in a blog post about links and resources for military husbands - you can check it out here: By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog - good luck in your move to Japan!

JA3 said...

Jenny, Thanks for the series and thanks for the heads-up. Sorry I didn't respond earlier, but that's another story (or two)!