It's a sweltering 100+ degrees in Los Angeles today so I spent the whole day indoors, slogging through papers and other accumulations of annoying stuff. I'm always stunned at the amount of things I find that are disposable, even though we try our best to cycle things out more quickly than they come in.
Some of the disposable stuff is still leftover from the distant past. It's hung around for the usual reasons that most of us keep things longer than we should: the inability to make a decision about what to do with them. Today I flipped open the Rolodex and spotted a card with the address and phone number of someone who's dead. You'd think that would be easy enough to toss, but what if the person was famous? Shouldn't I keep the phone number as a memento to show that I knew him? I'm not sure who I'd be showing it to and I can't imagine that this proof would be necessary or significant to anyone. It is just an address and phone number.
I told you it was over 100 degrees here today, so I can only suggest that the heat affected my brain. Yes, I must shyly confess that I let the card stay there. I have fond memories of the guy and a funny story or two to go with them. Ah, but this just shows how devious our minds can be when we're in purge mode.
Of course, all the tiny decisions that hold us back could be avoided if we unloaded all our possessions in one fell swoop. In our household, when we're feeling overwhelmed by stuff we often say that we're going to "sell everything," but what, exactly does that mean? It doesn't seem a very practical idea if taken literally and there certainly are some sentimental items that would give me pause if I were forced to part with them.
In a previous post called Designing Your Life, I asked you to ponder what you'd try to save if all your possessions were about to be lost in a fire or other natural disaster, a far less than desirable way to have decisions made for you about what you get to keep. In that post, I also mentioned last year's "sell everything" auction by Lisa Perry and John Freyer's "sell almost everything" art project auctions in 2002. Lisa used her money to move to another state; John used the proceeds from his many auctions to go visit his things in their new homes and create a book about the experience called All My Life For Sale.
And now, coming up this Sunday, is the closing of the "A Life 4 Sale" eBay auction by Australian Ian Usher. This 44-year-old man is selling his house, jet ski, car, clothes, a try-out for his job offered by his employer at a rug store, and even his friends who say they'll welcome the newcomer. The break-up of his relationship and, apparently, the resulting genuine desire for a radical change of life led to his decision to let everything go at once. "As long as the auction is a success I will leave Perth with my passport and wallet and I'm off," said Usher.
Could you do it? Sell everything? Is it a scary proposition or an enticing one?
I'm still rather fond of my youthful idea of being able to fit all I own in the back of my car and hit the open road. Very Jack Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson (minus the substance abuse). Of course, gas prices would have to come down quite a lot. But I do drive a hatchback with plenty of room . . . and it is a Honda so it gets great mileage . . .
Nah. Must be the heat.
© 2008 Cynthia Friedlob