Yesterday during a rare 34 minutes of free time on my way somewhere else, I decided to go by my storage unit instead of arriving early to my main destination. The last two times there, I'd unsuccessfully searched for some missing cold-weather shoes. This currently-limited shoe selection has had me close to just purchasing more on several recent occasions. And I do not need more shoes; I need to find the ones I own.
That's the thing about keeping the bulk of your possessions in storage as you flit from place to place - the longer you do it, the less organized your possessions can become. No matter how efficiently you label your boxes.
Since I put my things into storage and "freed up my life" to come and go as I please, I've steadily given away things I increasingly realized I didn't need. And each time I let another box of clothes go, or a chair, or box of unused fabric, I've felt better and better. But these feelings of comfort also mask the realization that I have to do more. Each time I go to switch out clothing for the changing seasons or drop off something I only need on occasion, I realize that we've moved well past the time when having these things kept safely for me was really necessary. The more time that passes and I live the way I do, the more I know that most of the things I store need to go.
I found my shoes yesterday. In fact, I found 3 pairs - one of which I had completely forgotten I owned, which was a treat in and of itself and will keep me from spending money on more things I don't need. But while looking for them, I also had a hard talk with myself about why I'm still storing so many things. Recently while starting work on my still-in-process Life List, I wrote "#3: Get rid of all possessions I don’t absolutely care about, or really need." And as I wrote, I thought, "You're getting there!" But am I really?
When I travel, of course, I can't put long stretches of time into dealing with these extra possessions. I'm too far away from my storage unit! "I'll spend a whole Saturday when I get home!" I told myself a few months ago. And it was exciting to realize that the weather had finally dropped below the infernal sweltering of the southern United States that had made any length of time in a huge metal building unbearable. Now, of course, we've already had our first snow. With temperatures so cold that last night's rain only finally removed the reamining white I'd been able to view all week long outside my window. So now when I go to "deal with my things in storage," as I've come to think of it, it's the stiff, cold fingers I deal with, instead of the oppressive heat.
What happened between then and now?
Well that would be life. If you don't make something a top priority, it's easy to forget all about it.
It's easy to read a post about minimilizing possessions like the one I just read by Sean at Family Rocketship, called How to Free Yourself from the Grasp of “Stuff” and count yourself among the few who are learning what we can live without and how great it is to have long-ago stopped buying things that we don't need. But whereas I might have felt great affinity in reading this, a while back, yesterday's lessons were too hard to ignore. In spite of the varied reasons I've had for storing extra things for so long, the current reality is very simple: I am paying someone else to store the parts of my life I am not taking the time to deal with. Ouch!
It would be great to tell you that I've figured it all out and from here on out I'll be truly free of things, that I've got a plan for unloaded the increasingly useless-to-me items that are hanging around. But I don't. There is no master plan whatsoever. In spite of how great it felt to drop off two sizeable boxes at the Goodwill truck before I arrived at my late morning destination, it's all I have - a feeling. A memory. A twinge of urgency that it's time to deal with my stuff.
For the past few weeks, I've been formulating a plan for some exciting travel late next summer. The plan is so enormous and different for me, and so freaking bodacious that it makes me giggle like a 3 year old when I think of it. I have no idea how I'll pull this off, it just seems like a good idea to keep it at the front of my mind. The strategizing and coordinating that will have to occur between now and then will be truly impressive. And now I know, too, that there's no way I can leave town for a huge adventure until I've dealt with my stuff.
So now, as I sit down with this gargantuan work-related to-do list, and also think of the gifts I haven't yet purchased, and the party next weekend, and the travel to be with my family for Christmas, I know that maybe this isn't the time to stress over the things I haven't unloaded. But I also know it's time to stop letting it fall, once more, to the bottom of the list. I'm not sure it's my goal to become a true minimalist, but what I do know is that I want to be much closer to that definition than I am now.
Sounds perilously close to a "New Year Goal" doesn't it?