Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011 ~ Day 53
Lighter and Lighter

Image by Renjith Krishnan

I am on a roll. I've posted five things on Craigslist for sale in the past week and my email account is BLOWING UP with interested parties. I'm high on the success of sales, with cash in my pocket.

Sure, I'm selling things for a small fraction of what they cost us to buy. Things we bought for hundreds of dollars are flowing merrily out the front door for chump change. Funny what a big deal it is to buy things (Is it the right color? Does it fit there? Does it match the house? Can we afford it?) and how EASY it is to get rid of them. (You'll give me $50 for that crib? Sure, why not! We don't need it anyway.)

Surprisingly, my husband and I don't care that we are getting peanuts for our worldly goods. We're moving, we don't want to cart a bunch of heavy furniture that doesn't fit into our new house with us, and besides it feels a lot lighter to get rid of it all. We're selling what we can sell and giving away the rest.

I'm dancing in the empty spot where our kitchen table and bar stools stood until two days ago, feeling free.

How is it that we have ended up with so much STUFF anyway?

It wasn't too long ago that I owned a bed, a desk, a couch, some clothes and a thousand CDs. I had never heard of the "EvenFlo Pack n'Play Mini Suite", let alone imagined that we would somehow have FOUR of these portable cribs. I thought the birch wood bedroom set my husband purchased at IKEA was the height of elegance, being that it was much fancier than the hand-me-down box spring we had been using from my parent's old guest bedroom.

They say that "Two can live as cheaply as one" but (a) I don't think that is true; and (b) Five definitely can NOT live as cheaply as two.

One of the thousands of things we've learned about babies in the past six years is that these tiny little creatures come with an endless barrage of accessories which are both superfluous and seemingly indispensable. Strollers, for example. How can it be that in the course of six years (and three children) we have owned six strollers?

1 Peg Perego Primo Viaggio, 1 BOB Jogger, 1 BOB Revolution, 1 BOB Duallie, 1 Zooper Tango, 1 Joovy Caboose

...and in the course of owning said six strollers, we could tell you A LOT about plastic wheels vs. rubber tires, seatbelts, turning function, ease of use, folding down well to pack, and maneuverability. Each stroller has offered a world of learning opportunities about how best to cart babies and toddlers around town.

We're not even in the minority here! Most parents I know have gone through multiple strollers, and some have a stroller for every occasion!

Enter Craigslist.

If it's not your first kid and you aren't freaked out about a crayon stain here or there, Craigslist is awesome! The perfect place to find a second (or third) stroller that will live only in the car, or a pack n' play that will live only at Grandma's house. Given the state of the US economy today, Craigslist is probably the FIRST place most parents turn for certain items, rather than going to the store to look at the new ones. Especially if you're looking for furniture items are made of real wood, you're going to get the same quality for a fraction of the price.

Moving beyond my enthusiastic endorsement for second-hand sales... I'm really talking here about first-rate LIVING.

It feels better than I can describe to let go of the material trappings that have been tying us down. I'm remembering day by day that we don't really NEED any of this stuff. It is nice to live comfortably but honestly, the THINGS in our home are not important at all when compared with the PEOPLE in our home. As we pare down our belongings to a minimalist style, I am growing giddy with excitement over the fact that our family can be at home anywhere in the world as long as we are together.

Just last week I remember chiding my son for spilling paint on that same dining room table. "We're not made of money," I told him, "We can't just go buy a new table and chairs any old time you spill paint". Yet just a few days later, that silly hardwood table wasn't even in our home... or our lives! Which brings back my focus upon the things that actually matter ~ like the fact that I *have* a son, and that my son loves to paint!

In many ways, moving is rebooting our family priority list. I love it!

Don't get me wrong... there is nothing wrong with wanting to provide a comfortable life for one's children, and I think most parents strive to do so. We don't want to make it so comfortable that they never find inner motivation to discover their own talents and make something of themselves; but a comfortable sofa for them to sit on while they study, a good box spring for them to sleep on as they grow, a refrigerator full of healthy delicious food -- these things seem reasonable.

In the end though, it is so reassuring to know that we can survive without most of our belongings... we can thrive as a family despite the lack of (perhaps due to the lack of?) material possessions. It lends personal truth to the notion that as long as a person has their health and their family and friends, they are truly wealthy.

What does that ancient Persian poem, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, say?

A loaf of bread, a jug of [organic grape juice], and thou.

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