The Things That Own You

The world has to learn that the actual pleasure derived from material things is of rather low quality on the whole and less even in quantity than it looks to those who have not tried it.  – Oliver Wendell Holmes

stuff piled up to go

Wow, I’ve had a rough week.  I feel positively weighed down by the stuff in this house, and everyday I make huge efforts towards getting rid of it and it hardly seems to make a dent.

And I wondered, why is this so hard?  Shouldn’t I feel lighter everyday that the weight of my possessions is lighter?  Shouldn’t this exercise leave me feeling buoyant and free?

Do you know what I think the problem is?  I think the things are clinging to me.  I have no problem letting them go, but they are not so easy to convince.  In embarking on this plan to eliminate the stuff, I have opened up a can of worms.  I am up to my elbows in things I don’t want, and whereas their weight has been sitting on the floor of my closets up until the present, now their weight is in my arms and on my shoulders.  I feel like the Shell Silverstein character: ah, heck, it’s up to my neck!

I think this is the natural resistance of chaos to simplicity.  I think I have to stay strong and keep my saber swinging to and fro through the thick jungle of it all until suddenly I will find myself in a peaceful meadow and the job will be done.

One decision I’ve made to help myself in this task is to forgo the estate sale.  We’re going the goodwill route (as in, you provide a big truck, and we will give you all our things).  For me, at this point in my life and times (and pregnancy), the effort of getting rid of things without getting them out of the house, while placing value on them (in the form of price stickers), and getting them cleaned up and sorted, without my kids breaking, removing, or playing with them, was just an impossibility.  Do you know how much easier it is to say, “I don’t need this, I don’t need this, I don’t need this…” as you toss things higgeldy-piggeldy into a cardboard box?

There are some big ticket items that we plan to sell on Craigslist because it’s hard not to try to recoup something out of this mess, especially when we haven’t bought the solar panels for our motorhome yet!

And the biggest task lying in wait for me is paperwork:  filing cabinets full, baskets brimming over, piles and stacks, and random particles that have drifted down to form a blanket of forms, envelopes, reminders, invitations, coupons, receipts and records on the floor.

For inspiration, here are some people’s ideas and suggestions in dealing with the dilemna of stuff:

100 things challenge

insight from a minimalist


  1. Momma Jorje
    March 14, 2011

    Good for you! I’ve had some ask me why I don’t sell all of the stuff I’m giving away or even save it for a garage sale. Other than a few high dollar items, I just want it GONE. So, I go through things and occasionally take a few or several garbage bags of stuff to the local Goodwill. It is SO much easier to just be RID of it than to deal with storing, photographing, copy writing, listing, etc. Not to mention meeting the stranger to deliver or have the item picked up. Ugh.

    Good for you, though, in minimizing!

    We got our truck and will hopefully have a travel trailer soon!

  2. Angelic
    March 15, 2011

    Where exactly is the facebook like link ?

    1. Free Range Dreams
      March 16, 2011

      I see the facebook like link right below the text of the article. Is it not there on your screen?

  3. Margie Lundy
    April 4, 2011

    Your title reminds me of our favorite saying: the more stuff you own, the more stuff owns you. So true! We made it though (we weathered the estate sale, oy!) and we don’t miss ANY of the stuff!
    Found you from Tara’s blog. We met her but missed meeting Benny. Hope our paths cross one day too.

    1. Free Range Dreams
      April 5, 2011

      Thanks for coming by–it’s always good to hear my plans backed up by families that have been there, done that! We’d love to have an adventure with the Lundy 5 one of these days!


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