The things you own end up owning you… LET GO!
…you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? This is YOUR LIFE. And it’s ending one minute at a time.
Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) in the movie Fight Club.
You know that silver cutlery service in the mahogany canteen? You have had it for 30 years. You remember it – well, vaguely… It was a wedding present. You come across it; let’s see – every time you move house! It has been taking up space in the back of a cupboard somewhere. It’s too good to use, except for those REALLY special occasions, but they never seem to come around. And anyway, it won’t go in the dishwasher. And you have to polish it before you can use it. But it cost a fortune and you’ll never get the money back on it… Well, we sold ours on eBay for exactly what it was worth – and that is <drum roll> WHAT SOMEONE WAS PREPARED TO PAY FOR IT!
It was painful at first but we had to accept that keeping things that you never use just because you won’t get back what they cost is stupid! All this STUFF we were hanging on to sapped our time and energy. People buy bigger houses and rent garages and storage units to accommodate all this unnecessary STUFF. Tyler Durden had it nailed, as did Frank Sinatra when he said “If you possess something but you can’t give it away, then you don’t possess it. It possesses you.
We were a month away from our house being rented out and going to tour full-time in our caravan. We needed to shed possessions – rapidly and comprehensively!
Anything saleable went on eBay. While we had to swallow hard at the paltry prices some things realised, it is surprising how, collectively, a big old load of junk that you never use can generate a handy little £4 figure boost to your travelling fund. Then there was the added bonus of experiencing an incredible lightness of being from becoming so unencumbered. We had finally rid ourselves of this ponderous train of STUFF that we had carted around for years, never used and not really known what to do with!
We went paper-free on everything official, such as bank accounts. We had payslips from our first jobs and bills from prehistory that we had filed and forgotten. Other than important documents which require you to retain the originals, such as birth and marriage certificates, all of our paperwork went the same way as the photos – scanned and burnt.
Obviously, converting our entire life into digital form necessitated a good backup system (an improvement on the paper records!) We are not blue sky thinkers and don’t know much about ‘The Cloud.’ We bought a substantial external hard drive, which we keep in a safe location completely remote from our laptop.
Not all of it was easy. All our precious photos we scanned onto the computer, then we burnt the 50 or so albums that had completely filled an entire wardrobe. We got rid of our beloved books – spirit guides that had informed, inspired and entertained – but more books than you could possibly read in a lifetime are available electronically on an e-reader. It is not as romantic as creasing a pristine cover for the first time or leafing through crisp pages, but a Kindle takes up next to no space and, in terms of caravan payload, it’s weightless.
Along with the books, things that don’t sell well on eBay such as CDs, DVDs, unwanted clothes (our working wardrobe. Ha!) all went to our local charity shop, Prama. Oh how they loved us – we were on first name terms! We can genuinely say that we gave the shirts off our backs to local people – and we are so happy that our community will benefit from the revenue raised from STUFF that we don’t even want!
We rented out the house furnished, with the exception of white goods; white goods are the scourge of the landlord. They have to be repaired and replaced if tenants don’t look after them – which tenants won’t! We rationalised that we will need furniture when we eventually go back ‘in the brick’ and when you’re on a tight budget, there is no point paying for storage or selling things that you will have to purchase again in future.
We chose to be sanguine about whether or not the tenants will care for our cherished furniture and home as lovingly as we did. From the moment we decided to rent it out, the house was no longer our home. It is a business which generates income to allow us to live a life we have always dreamed of, without having to work.
The biggest challenge was parting with our vinyl. We had not owned a record player for years. We still had the soundtrack of our youth in audible form but in the unromantic genre of CDs and MP3 files on a device the size of a credit card.
The biggest challenge was parting with our vinyl…
Although we couldn’t play them, we still owned our entire record collection. It was so much more than the box of scratched discs, resting in dusty, bent and well-thumbed covers. Our singles and LPs were Saturday nights in a bedroom with your mates; rushing home from school to play the latest release over and over again on a teak radiogram; the excitement of exchanging what you had scrimped from your bus fares, pocket money and paper-round to own a magical, shiny piece of black gold in a glossy cover – if you were lucky, a picture disc; coloured vinyl or a bi-fold cover with lyrics on the dust cover – all bearing images of your absolute gods. Each one held within it a treasured memory and direct connection to our youth. And we put out every, single one.
Mark contributed to relieving some of our storage problems quite neatly, though, straight out of the back door of the van. He came home one evening and handed me a plate. “I’ve brought you a souvenir!” He announced. I looked at him quizzically. “It’s the only one left whole…”
It seemed that as he had cornered, the van doors flew open; our china flew out, transforming Tuckton roundabout into something resembling the floor of a Greek restaurant after a particularly smashing evening. In a single manoeuvre, Mark had converted our 24-piece to a 1000-piece dining set! This kind of expansion may not seem immediately logical to those in pursuit of minimisation, but since only 1 plate was left intact, we would now be taking our best, sorry, ONLY dinner service travelling with us.
I am not sure that we will be the oddest people caravanning, but I do wonder if we are the only ones obliged to use a Wedgewood dinner service. Since we intend to tow with a van and the loss of one of the dogs’ leads on the beach the other day left us with a black dog on a string, the Wedgewood might just add a much-needed touch of class.
We have also had the Wedgewood for 30 years, but it will now fare better than the silver cutlery set, whose fate was to rust unburnished. The Wedgewood has, at last, come out of the closet – and now, it will shine in use!
Photo Credits from Unsplash.com – Clock Face – Fabrizio Verrecchia; White Goods – Janaya Dasiuk
If you would like to read my tips on eBay selling, click here
If you would like to read my tips on ways to recycle your STUFF, click here
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