Friday, August 26, 2011

stuff and nonsense

I was reading Kate's blog post the other day about the deliberations of what to do with 'stuff' as you transition from one life to another and it reminded me of various moves in life but particularly as I packed up my life in Scotland and headed down under.

I too was putting stuff in storage, unsure as to when/whether I'd need it again and indeed how long I'd be gone for. I'm a few steps ahead of Kate now having got to the point of shifting all my stuff out of UK storage and shipping it firstly to a storage unit in Auckland and then to various rooms and the shed of the house I lived in for 4 years. However it is transition time again. Yet again the various boxes of possessions are being reassessed. In the interests of freeing up storage space, and indeed the spare bedroom, of a house I no longer live in I'm gradually moving my stuff a few bags and the occassional car load at a time to another house. However this house is full of yet more stuff! So I can only move my stuff in as we declutter the rest of the house to make room for it...

So decluttering and decisions of what to keep/store/take have been very much a part of my life again recently. Previous clear-outs have been bolstered by referring repeatedly to Karen Kingston's book 'Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui'. Regardless of your views on feng shui and its effectiveness I thoroughly recommend reading it if you are needing help clearing stuff out. She goes through all the arguements for keeping stuff and takes them apart piece by piece in a way that helps you let go gracefully of things and let them live a new meaningful life through whichever means of recycling you choose - regifting, donating to charity, recycling, composting etc. but also accepting that some things simply are rubbish and need to go...

This time I don't have a copy to hand, having leant mine out yet again (about my 4th or 5th copy as I keep donating it too!) so I'm having to rely on memory and the website for those tricky 'but I've kept it all these years, stored it and shipped it half way around the world - I can't throw it out now...' moments. Clearing out other people's stuff is sooo much easier as there just isn't that same level of sentimentality attached to things - is it useful? is it beautiful? do I/we/you need it? are criteria enough, especially now we've found that the museum will happily take things off our hands that fall into the 'but that's history, you can't throw that out!' category (which led to much rejoicing all round).

But there are still things, like my assorted good quality kitchen items that I've collected over the years, that fall into that no mans land of not being needed right now, but really are beyond my ability to replace with equivalent items should I find myself needing them again. Given the lack of permanence in my life that could be anything from a few months to a few years away - so back in the box they go, for now.

In general I've got used to living with owning less than most my age do, mainly from having lived in places full of stuff belonging to others for the last 6yrs. It is much easier to live simply with few possessions when someone else provides the white goods, the bed, the sofa etc etc etc! But one thing I have come to realise over a lot longer period of time is that when I've needed things they have usually turned up, as gifts, helping clear a house, as loans, as offers of places to live. So with that lesson behind me it is much easier to let go of stuff that would do far better being used by someone else than stuck in a box and/or being a millstone around my neck that makes being able to go where the spirit blows me next totally impractical.

So, I'll keep plodding through those boxes and cupboards of my stuff and see what still really does need kept and what I can finally accept is a nonsense to continue hanging on to. But I know it won't be easy, any more than it is for the space to be made for what is left over to migrate into.

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