Sunday, August 23, 2009

Give it away

I was in Charlotte, NC last week.

I lived in Chicago for about a year before I decided to move to Charlotte. Just as I was making the decision to move Mark proposed and I gleefully accepted. Because I was committed to leaving Lynwood, Illinois I continued with my plans. I didn't know how long I was going to be in Bermuda getting married so I put my worldly possessions in storage.

Fast forward four and a half years. My stuff is still in storage and now I have paid more in storage fees than the items are worth. I made the commitment to clean out the unit and figure out what I wanted to do with everything.

I contacted everyone I know in Charlotte and invited them to come to the storage unit to see if there was anything they wanted or could take and give to someone in need. So on the hottest day of the year in Charlotte we set about the task. The unit I have is 10x10 and totally full.

Day 1 - I went to investigate and mentally put a plan in place.
Day 2 - We pulled everything out and I had to make on the spot decisions on what staying and what was going. By the end of the day (did I mention, it was the hottest day of the year?) I had reduced my stuff by two thirds. I figured if I could live without it for four years, how important was it really?
Day 3 - One last visit to the storage unit to put in items that were stored in Wanda's garage.

After I had gone through my belongings, I started to question why I had all this 'stuff'. When I die would anyone see it as important as I do? Would anyone keep it in their family and pass it on to their children? Or would they look at it and say, "I wonder where she picked this up." Then the next words out of their mouth would be, "Give it to the Salvation Army."

I am now thinking about the belongings I have. Do I need them? Do I need all the clothes and shoes I own? How about the pieces of bric a brac I have collected? Are they advancing understanding between people, reducing war, helping those who are hungry and suffering? What is the minimum we need to be comfortable and happy? Who has ever proven the more you have the happier you are?

I am starting to rethink my priorities and what I buy. I want to get to a place of not carrying around cards (I rarely have cash) and thinking carefully before I decide I absolutely can't live without a particular thing. I want to go through my closet and give away things I know I never wear again. I want to give my stuff to people who otherwise would not have. We can no longer afford to be selfish. We have to give and share and give some more.

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