When I was younger I liked to go sailing. I never owned a boat. But I had a friend who sailed out of Stamford, CT, and he took me on a couple of weekend trips up to Block Island and Cape Cod. One summer I took a series of sailing lessons on the Hudson River, and another summer I rented a small sailboat which I used to tool around Long Island Sound.
Sometimes, when I dreamed of sailing away into the sunset, I'd wonder if I could fit all my possessions onto a boat. I thought I probably could. A few clothes -- not many, since I would be sailing into the southern latitudes. A few provisions, a bag of books, one box of memorabilia.
I never got a chance to prove it because I never sailed away into the sunset. That's probably a good thing, for many reasons, not least of which is that it's easier to downsize in your head than it is to downsize in reality.
But I do remember downsizing from our four-bedroom house into a one-bedroom condominium. We got rid of a lot of stuff, put a lot more into a storage locker, and crammed the rest into our condo. It was hard.
I'm sure many of you have been through the process yourselves. What was the hardest part of downsizing for you?
As we tossed out stuff, we kept saying, "But we might need this again someday." Or else it would be, "But I paid $700 for these . . . " You fill in the blank. Sports equipment, musical instruments, special furniture. Or else we'd say, "But the kids might want this dining set from Aunt Martha."
We managed to get rid of a lot. But we still found that when we upsized again, into a small house, we ended up giving away or tossing out a few items from the condo and at least half the stuff we'd stashed in the storage locker.
|Some of my decluttering sins|
But the fact is, you probably won't. And if you do, it will be easier to buy a new one than dig out the old one -- one that might not work anyway. We have several pieces of audio equipment to prove it. Some speakers, a CD player, an old radio. But now we get our music on an iPhone, or through our Google Play, or via Youtube. Those speakers are still moldering away down in the basement.
Here's one suggestion I read about. Put your least-used "I might need it someday" into boxes and store them somewhere. Maybe you can exchange some boxes with a similar-minded friend. You each store the other's boxes in your basement. After a year or two, you can revisit your boxes and decide if you still want to keep them. Chances are you won't.
As for those other words: "But I paid $700 for those . . . " I'll tell you about my son. He was a musician in high school and college. We'd invested literally thousands of dollars in guitars, drums, amps, mixers and other equipment. He didn't want them anymore. They were outdated. So I tried to sell some of it. Nobody would buy it, but I managed to give away some of the stuff. However, I just could not bring myself to let go of the saxophone that had been glued to his hip for 15 years, or the banjo that he decided he just had to learn to play in 11th grade.
I'm no expert on decluttering. I've just been through it. And so I can tell you. Get rid of the just-in-cases. Get rid of the but-I-paid-so-much-for-this. Divest yourself of the old coin collection or photo equipment if you're no longer interested in the hobby. Give away the clothes that no longer fit. Toss all the stuff that's outdated or doesn't work anymore. And take the hint: If your kids don't want it, neither do you.