A few weeks ago, I started the process of unraveling my connection to the physical objects I had collected over the years by getting rid of my DVD collection.
Since then, my wife and I have been busy going through the rooms of stuff that we’ve accumulated. Boxes and boxes of stuff, stored in the crawlspace, under the stairs, and on shelves in every room of the house. Stuff that might have been purchased for a particular reason and tucked away in case that same reason and need for the item rise again, but it never does. Stuff that hasn’t been touched, thought of, our missed in the years that it has been hidden away.
Going through our process of discovering what things we have that are taking up space, we’ve had some wonderful discussions about why we’re getting rid of these things, and have come to a better, common understanding about the importance of experiences instead of stuff. Together, we’re trying to determine what that belief and those values look like when you have a two-year old son and when all we want to do is give him every toy in the big box store. That’s a really powerful mindset that seems impossible to break. Is it already too late? Is he already addicted to stuff?
We did an experiment and removed a few stuffed animals from his mountain of stuffed animals, just to see if he would notice that they were gone. For the most part, he didn’t. Most of the ones we removed were from the bottom of the pile, and not among his favorites. The one he specifically asked for after a few days was an Elmo that had a broken plastic eye that I fixed with white duct tape. I think he only asked for it because it was remarkable, in the sense that the other two Elmo that he had (yes, he has three Elmo…) did not have the broken eye, which made it different enough for him to remember. But after a few days, he stopped asking about that Elmo, too.
What he doesn’t stop asking for, and what we can’t give him enough of, is time together as a family. My wife was a dancer, so we watch So You Think You Can Dance (sure, that’s the only reason we watch it, not because I love to watch the performances), and at the start of each song we hear “Dance with me, mommy” or “Dance with me, daddy”. Our afternoons are filled with cache-cache (hide and seek), pretending to be dinosaurs, or chasing each other around the house yelling “fee-fi-fo-fum”. We’ve weaned him (and ourselves) down to a more reasonable amount of television in a day, and we’ve been filling that time by doing stuff together and, for me, that’s what it’s all about
We’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s nice to stop and see how far we’ve come.
The Great Purge Update
Boxes Emptied: A lot
Amazon Trade-In Credit: $300+
Craigslist Sales: $100
E-Bay Sales: $300+
Donations: Clothes, books, video games, and miscellaneous electronics and furniture