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January 28, 2006

Basement Blues

On October 6, 2005, I wrote the following:
When it's all said and done, we enter the world with nothing and leave the world with nothing. Having "stuff" is nice, but there's a lot more to life. Less is more. That will be my mantra as I proceed to fill the dumpster in the driveway.

Here's the context.....
Back in October, our basement flooded and we have had to take everything out so that it can be renovated. It's been a long process, done in stages. Stage 1 was to get the water-logged carpet and damaged goods out and make sure we wouldn't be infested with mold. Stage 2 was to make some repairs to the outside of the house to prevent (hopefully) the problem from recurring. Stage 3 was for Mark and much of his "stuff" to move to Texas. Stage 4 - talk to tile people, contractors, etc. in order to make a plan for the renovation of the basement. Stage 5 - finished just a few hours ago - was to complete boxing up everything in preparation for the beginning of demolition - THIS COMING MONDAY!

I found this to be not only an onerous, but also a surprisingly emotional task. Of course, part of it involved going through 15+ years of "stuff" stored in the basement because there was nowhere else to put it. Treasures that were too important to throw away, but not important enough to be the stuff of our daily lives. So boxing stuff up meant going through everything from our baby books (and those of our kids), to income tax files from the 1970s and 1980s (I regret that I'm not kidding), our rather pathetic "Presto-Pine" indoor Christmas tree (which will be in the next dumpster), and all the typical stuff that lives in basements - tools, pieces of this and that, 4 filing cabinets, etc. etc. etc. It was cathartic, but I'm glad it's over. Nothing will be going BACK downstairs unless we determine that we will really use it. And we will have one bang-up garage sale this summer! It should also make it easier to move when the time comes, especially if we will be moving into smaller quarters.

Lessons learned: simplicity is good. The monks knew it, and it worked for them. At the same time, however, the memorabilia of our lives help us re-experience important events and relationships. I have a row of about 25 coffee cups on the window sill in my office. They probably look strange to visitors, but i can tell a story rich with meaning about each coffee cup, and somehow they are comforting to have nearby. The challenge is keeping the volume of such artifacts in reasonable proportion. I guess there's nothing like a periodic flood to help us travel lighter. (Maybe I'll just try to do a better job of periodic purging without being prompted by a natural disaster...)

Posted by hgroteva at January 28, 2006 9:09 PM | Life