This will be a shorter post than usual because I am visiting my family for the week while John and I transition from “school home” to our “summer job home”. In the spirit of moving, I wanted to touch on a question that might occur to anyone who has ever had to pack up their belongings: How much stuff is too much stuff?
This past Saturday John and I handed back the keys to the basement suite we called home for our last two years of university life. Despite storing our books and dishes at a friend’s house, we still ended up with way more bags and boxes than our small car could possible hold. While I struggled to decide which pants I wore least often and how badly I would need those mason jars for canning, John had no qualms throwing out pretty much anything that he knew he wouldn’t need in the immediate future. He also jokingly called me a hoarder, knowing that it would get under my skin.
As I sat on my suitcase (in an attempt to keep as many of my clothes as possible), I thought back to a couple years earlier when almost all of my earthly possessions could fit into one suitcase. What is it that makes me hold onto things now so much more dearly than I did a few years ago?
Well, it’s partially because I’m a pretty sentimental person, or as John would say, “a hoarder of the heart”. For example, during the move, I refused to throw out a small tree seedling from our wedding, even though I could probably get a similar seedling pretty well anywhere for very cheap.
I also remember what it was like trying to set up a home after getting rid of all of my stuff. I took a lot for granted during my days of purging. In high school I was given expensive cookware that I gave away to someone because “I hate cooking and will probably never use it.” I also took all my childhood toys to the thrift store a few years back only to discover that some of them were actually worth a pretty penny on eBay. There are even some things of sentimental value that I wish I hadn’t given away so carelessly.
I don’t want to be a hoarder. I don’t want to be the kind of person who places so much value in things that those objects end up controlling the way I live my life. However, in a country where we can usually afford to replace the things we toss during a move, how do we maintain gratefulness for the things we have? And how do we avoid unnecessary waste in a culture designed to encourage consumption?
I’m still trying to find a balance between being a hoarder and a purger. Honestly, I can’t even answer the question in my title because I don’t think that this balance will look the same for every person. However, in this battle between the two extremes, the one thing I’m consistently thankful for is thrift stores. First, for taking my many unnecessary, but sometimes useful belongings. Second, for providing me with a variety of amazing items and helping me avoid the cycle of planned obsolescence.
Thrift stores everywhere, I salute you.