Live Like You Were Moving

 

We’ve all heard the song “Live Like You Were Dying”, which is good advice, really. But what if we also lived like we were moving? I don’t mean in the way that you don’t settle in to a place or get attached to your home or your area (though that works for some people too). I just mean live like you were going to have to pack up everything you own tomorrow.

Would you bring it all? Really? Even the nearly empty bottle of nail polish, and the wide brimmed hat that you never wear.? The chipped pie plate in the back of the cabinet, the television in the attic, the fourth pair of flip-flops? Who loves all that stuff?

I may have been thinking of this because of all the houses selling. People are packing up and moving and moving is hard work; harder still if you move stuff you should have left behind. I think it can be refreshing though, when everything that is moved is chosen consciously. Do I want to keep this? Do I even like this? Would I miss it? Rather than packing up everything and having to deal with it all later- to live with it all later- the wanted and the unwanted- why not sort through it before you move? Even if you have no plans whatsoever to move, it is freeing to live like you are moving.

When a house is going up for sale, a realtor will usually tell the owners to clean it up, put some things in storage, keep the furniture to a minimum. It makes the space look bigger, more open and inviting, less cluttered. And if this is so, why wouldn’t we want to live this way even when we aren’t selling our home?

It’s been a particularly busy weekend –a birthday celebration for my father, an Easter dinner, watching the Boston Marathon (my sister ran!), guests, driving my daughter back to school. It was a joyous weekend, but it’s time to get back to writing, and it happens to be trash day. Out with the old and unused. After gathering the trash and recyclables, I had room left in each barrel and seized the opportunity to do a little extra purging. New week, fresh writing, and spring is eeking through in fits and starts. No room in my life for old hair products, a ripped sheet set or Tupperware without covers. Would I bring this stuff with me if I were moving? Not a chance. Out to the curb, out of my life, gone from my line of vision, my mind, my cabinets. It is a season of renewal and new beginnings. We don’t have to be moving to start fresh. Sometimes the newness, even if it’s a mystery, reveals itself after we’ve purged.

Ahh the sweetness of a new day, a fresh week, an empty table top. I look around me and everything I have is everything I need. It is raining hard outside, a puddle forming at the root of the tree I see from my window. Firmly planted, even in its bareness it looks so alive, so strong, so rooted in time and place. There’s only a wall and some space between me and the tree, inside and outside.   I look between the two and think of packing up what is in here to bring it out there. What would I take? Everything that is in here? Pretty close, I think. I have no plans to move, but if I did, I think I’d be ready.

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4 thoughts on “Live Like You Were Moving

  1. We’ve been in the same house for 14 years and it’s amazing how things accumulate. I’ve thought different times about pretending we have to move just to convince myself to get rid of some of this stuff. Thanks for laying it all out! Great idea.

  2. This is a great idea – I’ve often thought of this strategy but have never been able to implement it. However, what it makes me ask is “why do we acquire all this stuff in the first place?” It is not only a burden in your home, its creation has imposed a huge burden on the planet. Every item used resources and created waste and pollution in the resource extraction, transportation, manufacture, more transportation and finally in its disposal. If it goes to the landfill, it will sit there for decades or possible centuries, usually emitting methane. If it is recycled, that is obviously an improvement but that process still uses resources and energy and produces some form of waste. Best to avoid as much stuff as possible from the beginning. Reduce is the first R.
    A quote for you from the environmentalist Julia Butterfly Hill: “When you throw something away, where is AWAY?”

  3. Thanks for writing. Excellent point- “where is away”? I think the key to simplifying lies not only in getting rid of the clutter, but in not bringing more clutter in. “Will this end up in a landfill?” is a great question to pause and ask before bringing something else in. Here’s an article I found which lists many organizations that will make good use of someone’s clutter. http://www.missminimalist.com/2011/04/where-to-donate-your-stuff-101-places-your-clutter-can-do-good/

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