Sunday, June 1, 2008

Project Divestment

There's a post on the Unclutterer blog that I've been trying to channel lately. It's about playing a game with yourself where you pretend that you have to drastically downsize your worldly possessions because you're moving overseas. I am not, in fact, relocating to a quaint Swedish village or a New Zealand oasis any time soon, but I have been trying to play the game because in a few months we will be moving to NYC, which may as well be its own country if you adopt the attitude of some New Yorkers. The size of our apartment will most likely be halved, so I've been trying to slowly weed through all of my so-called necessities.

To help me through the process, I went to the library and checked out Peter Walsh's book It's All Too Much. This has caused some ribbing from the peanut gallery, but I assure you it's a fast and effective read. It's going to make it easier to part with that bag of Magic Hat bottle caps and the electric guitar that I've played a total of 3 times.

One of the overriding tricks to downsizing, short of just getting started, seems to be creating emotional distance between you and your stuff. Gifts are the hardest for me. Well, that's not true. My extensive baseball card collection is the hardest and will be left mostly intact because it's a mere 3 boxes worth of memorabilia. But getting rid of gifts creates a tremendous amount of guilt for me. Someone (usually my mother) spent good money on that ceramic butterfly ashtray. Someone saw that rainbow candle holder and thought especially of me(!) (Let it be known that I do not smoke or burn candles, and I have long since given up the rainbow aesthetic). How can I knowingly throw other people's money down the goodwill drain? The short answer is, I can't afford not to. Unless the bestower is willing to contribute a monthly allowance to my rent fund to pay for the extra square footage needed to house their generous treasures, I am most definitely going to rid myself of the cluttering chaff (sorry mom).

The only gifts I have no qualms about redistributing are travel t-shirts. If you ever go to some exotic country and buy me a thick, shapeless, gawdy tourist t-shirt, I will pin you down and suffocate you with it immediately upon receipt of your "gift."

(No, the fridge pictured is not mine. It's my grandmother's, and I won't even get into how much stuff she has hiding in the corners of her historic 4 bedroom house)

1 comment:

Steve said...

Here's the way to rid yourself of the gift guilt: Think about the person's motivation when they gave you the gift. They wanted to make you happy, after all. So now, in order to be happy, you have to thin out your stuff. Thus giving the gift away is actually fulfilling the desire of the giver!

It may seem like mental gymnastics, but I think there's some truth to it. No one wants to saddle you with something you grow to resent or dislike or even just casually disregard.