"He who buys what he does not need steals from himself"

Lessons from a Yard Sale, Part 2.

Out of sight is not out of mind. While I have been gradually decluttering and donating over the course of the past year, I have also been setting aside certain "high value" items with the specific purpose of selling them at our yard sale. I'd been storing these new or like-new items in a few empty drawers in our spare bedroom so that they were separate and hidden from our daily lives. However, while we had mentally parted ways with them, we did not part with them physically. They were still occupying space in our house and negative energy in our home.

Looking back, I wish I had committed to getting rid of each item right then and there, as I went along. Quick and painless, like a Band-Aid. I think that by saving things up for the sale I created a lot of unnessary mental clutter. Next time I will follow the rule that if I can fit it in my car, then I can fit it out of my life. By packing it up and taking it straight to Goodwill I could get more from the tax deduction, with far less time and effort.

Perception is not reality. My ego ran this yard sale- not me. For each item we were selling I had a goal price in mind and was determined to get it. It was like a game. Although I was not attached to the items themselves, I was attached to their potential- the imagined worth, based on past or future perceptions of its value, not their actual, current value. In reality, the value of an item is based on the purpose it serves NOW. So if it is not being used, then it doesn’t serve a purpose in your life, thus it has no value.

So why was it so hard to let go? Because of GUILT, SHAME and FEAR. Guilt for creating a waste-land, literally: things that I had bought on a whim just because they were on sale, gifts from friends or family that were just not our taste to keep, miscellaneous items that we didn't use and were just taking up space in our closets and cabinets. Guilt for not appreciating or using each item fully during its time in our house, especially those perfectly good items that deserved attention. Shame for making poor decisions in the past, and that there was a lot of wasted money sitting out there- money that I would never get back. Fear that I was missing out on an opportunity to get something newer or better, or that again- something perfectly good might disappear under my watch. These feelings of guilt, shame and fear are powerfully strong. And they're also extremely limiting. They hold us back, not set us free. Letting go of stuff that we perceive to have value, and all of the narrow beliefs that go with them, is one of the hardest lessons of minimalism to learn.

Money isn't everything. One of my biggest mistakes was that I got greedy. I got so excited by the fantasy of the wads of cash in my hand that I lost sight of the ultimate goal- to purge. I wish I had realized that I'm not running a retail store here- I am simply getting rid of my old stuff. While our prices were low, they probably weren't low enough. It is likely that most of our customers sensed that we were trying to turn a buck rather than clear out our house and consequently kept their distance.

Next time I will price things as if I actually want to get rid of them- $1 or $2. I will aim for a quarter of the original price (not half, as we had), and be prepared to go even lower. In the end the freedom of letting go of an unused item, the convenience of never having to leave my house, plus the gratitude in knowing that you found a good home for your item is all enough to make a yard sale successful- it's NOT about how much money you can make.

In a perfect world, all of these complex feelings and emotions about getting rid of stuff would be resolved by being able find a good home for each item- someone to find joy and cherish it like it deserved. But until that perfect world (an endless amount of leisure time and resources) comes along, I am committed to being a more responsible citizen: buying less, choosing well, wasting not, wanting not.

Love, light (and less)



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