Friday, October 24, 2008

One Week and Counting . . .

Well, today is Friday. October 24th, 2008. I could use the line that “today is the first day of the rest of my life” – and indeed, that is true. But, in a much more meaningful way. One week from today, October 31st, I will permanently leave the ranch here in the Shenandoah Valley and officially be FREE – and “homeless.” No, I don’t mean I’ll be sleeping on a steam grate in New York City or living in an alley in some urban area or even camping in a tent. But, for the first time in over 40 years of adult life, I will not have a monthly rent or mortgage payment, utility bills, a wired, land phone lines, household insurance, lawn maintenance, household maintenance and none of the obligations and responsibilities attached to what we typically think of as a “traditional” lifestyle. And, I am doing this because I CHOOSE to, not because I have to.

The down-sizing process is much more difficult then I ever thought it would be. I’ve read several books on de-cluttering and down-sizing and I’ve talked with a number of people who have gone through the process. Maybe I should have taken more heed of what I read and what people told me, who have done it. I can honestly say this. It is extremely difficult to unravel a life that spans 63 years and I’m sure glad I’m doing it now and not waiting until I’m in my 70’s, 80’s or, should I be so lucky, my 90’s. I’m sure I wouldn’t do it at all if I reach my 80’s or 90’s and I’m not sure I’d even do it if I were in my 70’s. I’ve moved a lot during my lifetime – about 8 times until I was 22 years old and 16 times from 22 to 63 – altogether that’s an average of just about every 2.6 years – or during my adult life from age 22 to 63 that would average about 2.5 years. Now, moving is extremely stressful – but at least you don’t have to get rid of everything you have and start fresh. When you do the BIG DOWN-SIZE, as I’m calling it, the stress is increased exponentially, by age, amount of stuff, amount of space the stuff is filling, the amount of other day to day things going on in your life, the expectations people have of you from business and social life and the stupid “sentimentality factor.”

So, as I take my short break (I’ve been at this since last spring, selling off things I wasn’t using) I’m still surrounded by stuff in every direction. I got serious about this in September and I got REAL serious as October approached. I rented a 10x20 storage unit to put the small amount of personal (sentimental factor) stuff I want to keep – and that is taking just a small corner of the space – BUT, the rest of the space started to fill fast, so I upgraded to a 10x30 space. So, now I’ve taken over several loads of stuff – mostly stuff for sale that hasn’t sold through the ads I’ve been running for months in the local classified paper and at three weekend long moving sales I’ve had over the past four weeks. There is a huge amount of stuff just going to the landfill – absolutely no value that I can determine. Another huge amount of stuff is going to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. But, there is still a HUGE amount that is going to fill up that 10x30 space. I’ll be using that space to continue selling the stuff from.

This is not easy! It is not for the faint of heart or for sissies. The ONLY redeeming value I see in it – is when it’s all over. I will no longer be in the warehousing business nor will I be a slave to stuff I don’t want and won’t/can’t use. I’ll be writing more about this process. I have taken photos and will post some of them at some time in the future. Actually, I should have started taking the photos at the beginning of this year and had a complete chronicle of this experience and process. But, the photos I have will easily get the point across. And, don’t think this won’t be a challenge for you. It’s amazing, each time you open a drawer, a cupboard, a cabinet, a bookshelf, a closet, the attic, basement, garage, storage areas and so on – you keep finding more STUFF.

Well, the “Stuff” is beckoning me again. So, I’ll keep this relatively short and add more later.

Anticipatingly enthusiastic,
Ed Helvey

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