Friday, April 29, 2011

Where Did All This Junk Come From?

You can learn a great deal about yourself from moving.

Donna and I are currently preparing our household to move. If anyone came into our house right now, they'd think we have a serious drinking problem. The house is full of liquor boxes. We have found that liquor boxes are some of the best boxes for packing. They are sturdy, the perfect size for older people (large enough to pack numerous books and other smaller articles, but small enough so that they are not too heavy), and most have slots or cubicles, which are perfect for packing glasses and other items.

One thing I've discovered is that we don't own our possessions; rather, our possessions own us. Over the years, we accumulate junk of all kinds. And when it comes right down to it, is this junk really worthwhile? Most junk we accumulate has meaning only for us, and we haul it from house to house (or apartment to apartment) . When our time comes and our daughter commits us to the home, I'm sure most of these possessions will find their way to a garage sale or the local landfill. So, we're trying to beat her to it and we are really scaling down our possessions.

Several years ago, we bought a massive bedroom suite. This is really solid, quality furniture. It contains a king bed, 2 night tables, a large dresser, and a 2-piece armoir. The mattress itself is over a foot thick, and it is now nearly impossible for two aging Baby Boomers to flip. The furniture crowds our bedroom so much that we must weave our way around and through it. The buyers for the house have agreed to buy our bedroom suite (they're young and don't know any better yet), so we get to leave it here. Our new house is a bit smaller than our current house, so we are happy to scale down. We'll buy something more practical when we get to San Angelo and get settled.

We also bought some overstuffed recliners a few years back. We are selling these to our buyers, too. They are more difficult to get out of each day, and I really prefer something that is more erect and provides more support. In fact, I find myself using the recliner feature less and less. And again, they are just a nuisance to move around due to their bulky size.

In recent years, I've discovered I really don't need much to be happy. In fact, I've devised a list of those things I cherish the most. Here is that list, in no set order.
  1. An efficient kitchen with a decent pantry for storing food, especially canned goods. When living on a fixed income, it's wise to buy non-perishable or long life items in quantity when they are on sale or good coupons are available. I like the feeling of having a good store of food available. But I need very little space to prepare that food.
  2. I love my books, and I like to have them arranged in bookshelves for easy retrieval. I spend at least some time each day reading.
  3. Good light is essential as my eyesight slowly deteriorates. I love windows that let in the light.
  4. I like a good bed. In fact, the queen bed we have in our guest room is much more comfortable than the Goliath bed in our master bedroom. I don't need big -- I just need comfortable.
  5. I like a good chair for sitting and reading or watching television, and I watch very little television these days. My TV attention span is very short, it seems. A good rocking chair would suit me just fine.
  6. I love a good yard. Our current lot is one-fourth acre, and our new house sits on one-fifth acre. I love to garden, and I truly enjoy mowing. I find great satisfaction in doing work where I can see an immediate improvement. I look forward to the challenge of seeing how much food I can grow in our new yard.
Aside from these items, I really don't require much else. One of the tests I perform when I consider an object is how often it is used. This is especially true in the kitchen. How many appliances do we all have in our kitchens that get used just 2 or 3 times a year? Yet, these items often take up much counter space and contribute very little, if anything, to our quality of life.

And I guess that is the real issue here. What do we need to have a good quality of life? What do we need to be truly happy? For me, I don't need much.

My perfect house, in fact, would have very little living space but massive quantities of storage space. It would also have a screened-in porch, and I would do most of my living out there, both summer and winter. In fact, I'd sleep out there many nights.

So, as we pack away, we find ourselves taking more and more items to Goodwill and our local Crisis Center. This afternoon, I'll put a load of junk no one in their right minds would want into the back of my Tundra and head out to the landfill early tomorrow.

And you know what? Once all these items are gone, I'm sure our quality of life will be every bit as good as before, if not better.

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