By Christine

Debbie Grovum’s  recent post on “downsizing” showed that as we age we do often need to reduce the number of our possessions and activities, but for me, rather than being sad or daunting this can be a positive and even empowering sort of experience.

We’ve just spent our adult lives building our “empires” of careers and families, instinctively accumulating goods against future shortages–and, for the affluent, simply acquiring nice things for the pleasure of owning them. But once some of us reach a certain age, those priorities no longer seem so high and we begin a transition into a new stage of life as valid, interesting, and rewarding in its way as the ones that went before. We begin to feel a need to simplify our lives and attachments; we’re drawn to downsizing in order to create psychic space to explore new social, mental, and physical territory appropriate to our present situations and gifts.

Thus downsizing isn’t a matter of “giving up” but of “clearing the way.” For example, the last time I moved, I opened up a box of antique china I’d inherited from my father and found almost every piece broken.  My immediate reaction? “Whew – one less thing to worry about!” So, as a follow-up to that earlier post, here are some more tips:

– As you go through the steps, remember that each item you handle had a value for you, and maybe an important purpose, at one time in your life. Take the time to think about it, appreciate that, and honor it.

– Then ask whether it still serves you, or whether it might serve someone else better now.

– As you let it go, wish it well on its journey. Know, when you bring these things to Goodwill, you are not “getting rid of stuff,” you are giving it a new life – with someone else.

– Rather losing something, feel good that you are contributing to the ethic of “reuse and recycle.” Everything someone else can use, or which be recycled, is something that will not have to take new resources (and create new pollution) to make another copy of.

– As for the rest that must go into a landfill, acknowledge that this wastefulness is an unavoidable side effect of a way of life our society developed in the past century, one none of us has been able to avoid. Any guilt you’re tempted to feel is a reflection of that fact that this wrong turn is now being corrected in our collective consciousness. People are becoming increasingly aware that “there is no ‘away'” when we throw things away. The next generation seems likely to handle waste better than we’ve done, and we’ve helped them learn that. That’s a good thing

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