6.23.2009

How much do you want for this? . . . Will you take ten cents?



If you really want an exercise in self-loathing, it's hard to beat having a garage sale.


Trying on the pants you finally dieted your way back into in March only to find that you've grown out of them again is perhaps the only thing that eclipses it on the hate-yourself-o-meter.



(Don't ask how I know this; I assure you I have reliable intelligence on the subject.)


In Hinckleyville we've been threatening a garage-sale-to-end-all-garage-sales for about 3 years now, and by piling a whole lot of stuff out there in an act of good faith (over the 3 year period) we finally reduced available parking space in our three car garage to barely-one-car, so we had to do something.

For one thing, you have to be able to open the car doors to get out, or parking there isn't really practical.



It's actually a lot like dieting -- you must come to a place where you really hate yourself enough, and we've arrived.

So it's garage sale time this weekend.



Surveying the rubble, I can only shake my head and ask myself several big questions:



1) WHY DID WE EVER BUY ALL THIS STUFF?

2) WHY DID I EVER THINK STUFF WOULD MAKE ME HAPPY?

3) CAN THERE POSSIBLY BE THREE DIFFERENT MOVING COMPANY STICKERS ON ONE UNOPENED BOX?

4) WHY DIDN'T SOMEBODY STOP ME WHEN I COULDN'T STOP BRINGING HOME CHARMING OLD SHUTTERS AND YARD TRELLISES?

Perhaps worst of all is the fact that I can see it won't actually be the garage-sale-to-end-all-garage-sales (there's at least one more), because I was trying to go through my studio closets in order to get rid of some of the 20 year accumulation of failed projects/abandoned hobbies/unrealized dreams and out of the literal thousands of craft supplies in there, I was only able to bring myself to get rid of about 15 items.

And I was having nagging thoughts today about going out to the garage and lugging that big pile of wooden bowls back in and tucking them safely away.

Because what if I want to go back to painting wooden bowls in a few years?





Someone I know well
asked me the other day
if I thought they were happy.





And I considered carefully for a moment, because it was a serious question and one deserving of my full attention. Then I answered that I think they seem to be as happy as I've ever known them to be.



To which they replied something along the lines of,

"I guess this is happiness, then, and I should quit worrying about it or searching for it elsewhere."



I share this because I can't help but wonder, looking at our piles and piles of discarded possessions, if we might not have been just as happy if we'd never owned any of it?


And isn't that a lesson I could learn going forward?


There's a little note jotted on a scrap of paper on my desk -- not sure where it came from, but it's in my handwriting so I must have seen or heard it and written it down. It says:



Happiness is
a choice,

not a
consequence.







And happiness certainly isn't something you might sell at a garage sale later. Perhaps that should be the test the next time I feel, "I'd be really happy if only I had (fill in the blank)."


There are naturally cheerful and optimistic people and some who are less so, but happiness doesn't really seem to have anything to do with whether you see a glass as half empty or half full.



Instead, happiness seems to be much more connected to whether or not you realize that what you have in your glass tastes pretty good -- and that half a glass is probably plenty to drink.

8 comments:

Allie said...

Oh golly isn't this the truth. I discard things easily - sometimes to my later regret - but I'm married to a hoarder.
I do NOT envy you having a yard sale. I wish you great success though.

Jake and Chelsea said...

that's brilliant mom. i love it. and maybe save me one bowl...what if i want to paint a bowl sometime?

and even though i know it won't make me eternally happy, i'm still going to buy a big tv and a nintendo wii as soon as i get home. don't worry, i'll let you play too!

luanne said...

i'm still trying to figure out how you started a garage sale story with self-loathing, ended with the secret to happiness, and made perfect sense throughout.

and thank you for not showing any photos of the charming old shutters, because then i might really have needed them!

Amelia and Justin said...

We had the garage sale to end all garage sales that last for three weekends - so yes, you will likely need more than one...

I loved this post. I need to make Justin read it. We (some of us more than others..) have a tendancy to think that we need something and our life will be better - but, really, we don't. Good post. Thanks!!

Amanda and Christopher said...

I would truly be happy if......I could attend your garage sale! How about that?! Your fleeting moments of happiness will go on to give others fleeting (or lasting) moments of happiness. Good luck with the sale and the emotional task of letting go.

VO said...

This is when I feel great that I don't live anywhere near you. I KNOW I'd pick up a few things to repurpose and maybe never get around to it.

abi said...

If only I had some nice old shutters then...

Thank you for your post, it really does put things into perspective. I'm ready for a garage sale now...

susan m hinckley said...

Sorry, Abi -- I'm pleased to report I sold my shutters but I would have gladly sent them to you . . . not my beloved green ones, though. I'm still pretty attached to them. And come to think of it, I'm secretly pretty sad all those trellises are gone now . . . It's a disease, and I fear I'm not cured.

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