When we left the US, we brought with us only what we could carry on our backs. The remainder was sold, donated, or discarded.
Except of course for those extremely critical items we would definitely need again some day. No, these most cherished of items were stored in a friend’s basement, because how could we possibly live without them?
Now 6 years later, we cracked open this most precious of Time Capsules, thereby rediscovering the things we think we truly need.
The Things We Think We Need
What were the few remaining items that we decided to keep all of these years? What was so important that it required long term storage?
After scrounging around in a crawl space for 30 minutes, I emerged victorious with 2 boxes, a rice cooker, an acoustic guitar (w/ amp & pedals), and a fine veneer of cobwebs and dust.
Box 1 was full of photography and cook books. It took about 15 seconds to recognize only one of these would be read again.
Box 2 was a bit more interesting….
- ten years of tax documents (do it yourself, yo)
- photo albums and a few pics of mini Winnie
- several journals
- paper copies of documents from purchase & sale of my Seattle home and rental property
- sweet french press
- handheld bicycle air pump
- complete set of 1990 Score Football cards, with Barry Sanders rookie and Bo Jackson B&W (mint condition)
How to get rid of stuff
The human animal is a strange one, in that we get attached to physical items.
Digging through this pile of stuff, we were both a little dumbfounded… we kept all of this crap?
The family photos obviously have sentimental value, but literally everything else is homogenous, mundane, and replaceable. So I reflected on our process and methods for getting rid of stuff…
Step 1 – divide everything you own into 3 piles – Keep, Discard, and To Be Determined (TBD)
Step 2 – get rid of everything in the Discard pile – donate, sell, recycle, whatever…
Step 3 – push everything back into one pile and repeat until everything is obviously in the Keep pile
Any documents or photos should be scanned/digitized, and the originals shredded and recycled.
This method helps to overcome irrational attachment:
– first, it requires no hard decisions. The TBD pile allows us to ease into downsizing
– second, it allows momentum to build. By discarding even one item, it becomes easier to get rid of the 2nd and the 3rd and so on..
In hindsight, this method also has some minor flaws:
– it is easy to keep the cycle going indefinitely, until you end up with 2 boxes of mostly crap in a friend’s basement
Sifting through the things we didn’t successfully eliminate from our lives was a fascinating exercise. Who knew these things were so important?
We head back to Taipei in a few days, and the family photos, guitar, french press, 1 cook book, and the bike pump are coming with us. I’m debating what to do with the football cards.
Everything else has been shredded or found a new home. I guess you could say we just ran through Steps 1, 2, and 3 one last time.
It’s almost like we should have done this years ago…
Have you successfully downsized? What do you think you need?