We moved house. We found a brand new rental just ten minutes away in a great neighbourhood, close to major roads and shops. It’s a great house and we are going to enjoy living here. It has everything we need; four bedrooms, a study and two living areas. It has a good size yard with a fence for our dog, and a beautiful kitchen with a big five burner stove. Absolutely nothing to complain about. But, it’s smaller than our last house. That was always the plan, to downsize, but the reality of that has kind of slapped me in the face, and it stings a bit.
You see, our last two houses were extra large. Big family homes with rumpus rooms for games and spaces for musical instruments. Big houses with spaces to enjoy family and friends and big Christmas dinners. Living in big houses, over time we have acquired furniture to fill the rooms and nicknacks to fill the shelves. We’ve collected books and toys, craft supplies and kitchen appliances.
Don’t get the wrong idea, this stuff isn’t junk. We have aways purchased the best we could afford, good quality things that we use and enjoy. Things we planned and saved up for before we purchased. But we no longer have room for these things in our home. We have too much stuff, and some of it has to go.
The truth is that we don’t need the things we are getting rid of. We have enough, and we are just getting rid of the excess. Our new home is more than adequate and all of the important things that we love the most and use all the time have a place. We have enough. We don’t need any more.
So, why is this process so hard? It’s got me thinking…
My stuff represents my achievements
In our culture we measure value and success by the size of our homes and the quantity and quality of our stuff. It is a big fat lie, but we get sucked into it and believe that because we have lots of great stuff we are important and valuable people. Downsizing my belongings then feels like downsizing my value, my ego, and that is uncomfortable.
My stuff represents my memories
Gifts from people I love, toys my children enjoyed, books that have impacted me, bits and pieces that remind me of happy moments and people who are special. I have loaded value on my stuff because it reminds me of the past. Sentimental value. It’s a tricky one, because I want to honour those who have invested in me and the incredible past that I have enjoyed, but I don’t need to keep the stuff to do that well. The very best way to honour the past is to grow into my best future.
My stuff represents my comfort zone
My old stuff is familiar and comfortable and known. It’s my ‘been there and done that’ life. It fits in with my taste. It suits me. I like it. But there is more to life than comfort and familiarity, and there is always a choice to make in stepping into the unknown ahead. I want to create space and capacity for what is in my future, and I can’t do that while holding on to all that has been in my past.
It is possible to have too much of a good thing.
The things I have been able to fill my life with are good. Now it’s time to look forward and step into the next season, and just take the things that will serve me in the new place. I can’t drive forward well when I’m focussed on the rear vision mirror. Once the grief and inconvenience of the downsize is over I know I will be a bit lighter and nimbler to enjoy my new home and my next stage of life. It’s got me thinking… what other parts of my life could do with a downsize?