Sunday, September 11, 2011

Garage Sale Glories



Selling one's stuff is a seminal process. It involves so very much energy. There was the initial search, deliberation, and purchase; the lugging around of the thing, the relevant degree of care or upkeep, practical, emotional, sentimental. Who gave me this? Where did I get that? Why did I ever have that? Can I really dispense with this? Have you any idea about the story behind this one? And then there's the price. How does one put a price on stuff that one has had over years, that costs a lot to replace, or that might just as well be given or carted away?

We seem to collect and cherish and use and have about and around ourselves so very much. Having once lived from only what I could carry on my back I came to realize that I was very limited by comparison to others in my Canadian community. Then came there a winter of discontent. And another. And once I began to furnish my rented or purchased dwellings the practical, useful, and collectible soon became more than a car-full of things for which I demonstrated care. Our lives are indeed a gathering of moment by moment wants and impulses. Even as I sit in the outdoor shade and write there are people in my garage picking over the pricing of pieces suddenly discovered to be wanted to have. And no matter the docket value, they'll invariably negotiate for less.

It is in moving somewhere else that we most likely find no need of something any more. Certainly that's been my case. Were there a listing of all the material things I've both acquired and dispensed with over some sixty years of living it'd be longer than the list of gifts the elves supply to Santa at Christmas. It seems that people's presents are one thing, but then there is also the stuff I buy for myself. 

What is it in one such as me that feels bereft if not owning something? What hole am I hoping to fill? Is it really important to exclaim that I have that music, have read that book, have the next gadget on order, or indeed know what you're talking about? Is it an incompleteness that is driven by a need to validate the self, to make the self happy, to give a surge of excitement at the discovery of some treasure or other. Do you have any porcelain, the elderly man interrupts me to ask, only I need to find it to complete this set I have and I've gone from garage sale to garage sale for years.

Sorry, I answer compassionately, and watch him go. I wonder, is searching happiness?

But now that my semi-read books and once-or-twice heard CD's and polished mirrors and still working lamps are being packed off to other people's houses I can but reflect in the light of day on their personal value to me. And surely I can determine to curb the next impulse to fill the vacant spot I note in myself that declares a must-have feeling so strong as for me to locate in which pocket I left my wallet. Surely I can limit expenditure to the practical, the necessary, and.... But what of aesthetics? Are they not practical and necessary too?

At the end this Garage Sale day, or at the end of life's last sunset, I surmise, it is not that we own stuff that matters, as much as that we are not owned by stuff at all, ha!


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