St. Francis of Assissi had a good idea

St. Francis took a vow of poverty. He owned nothing; even his monk's robe was borrowed. When he moved from place to place, it was pretty easy. Put on your borrowed shoes and robe and go. I definitely think he was brilliant in this idea of not owning anything because he never had to move anything.

With every move I make one thing begins to dominate my thinking and that is to identify how much stuff I have and it's not a pretty picture. I fantasize about giving it all to charity and then move on to my next location. I don't think anyone appreciates how much stuff is accumulated until you have to start packing it up and moving it.

Every time I have moved over the last 20 years, and primarily the last 10 years, I have taken stuff and donated it to charity. Now I'm not talking about a grocery sack of stuff. No, sirree! I'm talking carloads of stuff. Don and I moved to Chadron in November of 2008 and left in June 2010. That's only 20 months and yet we hauled multiple carloads of stuff to charity. How can that be? Is "stuff" like rabbits? Easily reproduced and spreading like crazy?

Growing up I saved stuff and was probably a closet pack-rat. I saved almost everything that I felt had some sentimental value no matter how big or small. For example, I saved all of my Truesdell Junior High newpapers in which I had written editorials. I didn't save the editorial but the entire paper. That's just one example but there are numerous others that I could list.

Moving changes everything. I find that I'm asking myself, "Do I really want to move this or that again?" Sometimes the answer is yes but a lot of times, it is a resounding, "NO!" I have done this in the past several moves and there have been very few times that I regretted getting rid of something. What usually happens is that after the move and giving tons of stuff to charity before the move, I open a box and find myself sighing and asking myself, "Why did I move this? Why didn't I donate this to charity, too?" So, every move has the "before the move charity stuff" and another "after the move charity stuff." Thankfully the second stash is much smaller.

As I'm sorting and packing there are always things I find that have so much sentimental value to me that I can't give it up (this group of items is getting smaller with each move) and yet I find myself asking what my kids will think when I'm gone and they find my "sentimental to me" stuff and wonder why the heck I've saved this or that item. A good example of this is high school yearbooks. I haul them from place to place and they are big and heavy. I haven't taken them out to look at in years and yet I can't seem to part with them. They have meaning to me but not to anyone else. I'm beginning to think I should donate them to my school archives or something like that.

One good thing about living with much less stuff is that it is a freeing experience. There's less to move but there is also less to clean around, less to store and less stuff to look through when I need to find something. It really is a good example of "living more with less."


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