When Less is More
By Kathie Boyd
I cried when the estate sale people carried out my heavy pine colonial couch and tossed it, like so much garbage, into their truck. After a three-day weekend estate sale, no one wanted it—even at a fraction of its 1970s price. “Young people want light wood,” the guy said. Then, off they drove. No one seemed to understand the memories that couch held, how we had saved for it, how we cared for it, how it had supported us and our guests through the years.
When my husband and I moved to a 55 and over community 16 years ago, we really did not have to shed too much in the way of possessions. In many ways, my new adult community house had more usable space than my 1950s Cape Cod we were moving from. And, soon we began to fill that extra space and began to accumulate even more.
When my husband died last year after a lengthy illness, I was forced to look closely at all our material possessions in a different light. My handyman husband had collected a plethora of tools, car paraphernalia and gardening implements. There was no way I would be climbing on ladders to adjust ceiling fan speeds, using the car jacks to rotate tires or draining the sprinkler system. When I started to sort through the garage items, I found hardware, paint, signs and the like from 1969, the year we bought our first house! He thought about cleaning and clearing but always decided to keep most of it JIC—just in case. I am sure he did not even know the things that lay hidden in the nooks and crannies of the workbench.
I was just as guilty in the household areas. I counted a minimum of 20 different size casserole dishes, enough glassware to open my own tavern, pots and pans that I seldom used–wedding gifts from 54 years ago. I sat in the middle of the kitchen floor, my possessions almost burying me and wondered how we had allowed so many material objects to clutter our lives.
With the help of some trusted friends, I began to sort through years of accumulated belongings. I was amazed at the small pile of items that I decided to keep. I contacted an Estate Sale Company (who takes 50% of the sale proceeds) to help me price and mark the items I no longer wanted or needed and which would become either trash or treasure.
When all was said and done, I wish I had sorted, gleaned and discarded stuff long before I had to. I am finding that there is immense satisfaction and joy in living with less. I understand now that the couch I wept over last year was not the keeper of memories. I was.