Beyond 647

I think it’s interesting that I have lived in two homes that burned to smoking ruins, and yet I never dream of losing everything I own to fire. I do, however,  have a recurring nightmare about having too many possessions: I am required, on short notice to pack up my family (usually including not only my children but  young versions of my siblings, too) and evacuate a house that represents everything I have ever owned. Every piece of clothing, every toy and craft stick and crumpled receipt; they are all there in a jumble, and I am hip-deep in it, and I am trying to sort out what is most crucial to take along.

I’ve had this dream for as long as I can remember. The only thing that changes is the sheer volume of stuff. I don’t know if it’s related to what I perceived as many spur-of-the-moment moves during my childhood–coming home from school on a Wednesday to a moving truck, and driving away on a Friday. I was always glad on some level; moving was a reinvention–of self and possessions and place. When I was sixteen, the moving truck was empty and Mom was working full-time. My brother and I filled three dumpsters with things we deemed non-essential in the still of the night–sneaking across the street to another apartment complex when ours were full.

I started dejunking my place this week. Not only dejunking, but de-everything-not-absolutely-crucial-to-survival-right-now. That means I am not keeping any car seats for that nebulous time in the future when I might have to transport a small person. I am throwing away the rosemary and caraway seed. If a recipe ever calls for them, I’ll pick another. I’m not keeping my fat clothes.

Just to keep myself honest, I texted my sister-in-law: Give me a number between 100 and 1000.

She answered: 647.

So that was my goal, the magic number of things I needed to part with–though I thought it unlikely I had that much to get rid of.

Silly me.

Said sister-in-law is now helping me out: I stack everything in my front hall, and she comes along and hauls it off. I don’t know if it will help with the nightmares, but at least when I’m awake I’ll be able to locate my cinnamon. And if REC ever explodes, or a rail car turns over in my backyard spilling toxic waste from Hanford, my life should be easier to condense into a space the size of my lap. I almost kept my crock pot, I admit. But then I remembered I have an oven-safe pot.

We’re way past 647, and I’m not counting anything made out of paper.

You remember that scripture in Malachi? About how if you pay your tithing the heavens will open and pour you out a blessing so great you will not have room enough to receive it? I must have been paying way too much tithing, because the excess is ridiculous. BUT, I must point out, that I am blessed–and always have been–to have everything I need, and more. I have never truly gone without, not even when our home was a smoking pit of ash or when I slept, five to a twin-sized mattress in a filthy apartment complex in Portland, Oregon the year I turned six. There was always enough, and always a lesson we needed to learn.

I know that God loves us. I know he wants us to have all the good things we desire. I also know that we don’t always want what’s best for us, and we end up with a hallway full of unneeded and unnecessary items that we once thought would bring us happiness. He knows this, but he allows us our agency, allows us the exquisite schooling of trial-and-error, and lets us try again.  Thank God for all that, and for every spotless tomorrow.


2 responses to “Beyond 647

  • ladywise

    One of the best things you can do for yourself, in my humble opinion, is to eliminate the clutter in your home. I was the ultimate “collector” when I was young. I had “stuff” everywhere. I constantly struggled to keep the house clean and I spent a great deal of that time moving “stuff” from one side of the house to the other, from one closet to the other. I would sit and look at magazines with these beautifully decorated homes in them and think, “gosh, why can’t my home look that nice?” Well, it dawned on me one day that it could, if I got rid of the “stuff”, the clutter all over the place. I did exactly what you are doing now and it not only reduced my cleaning time, it increased my time to spend with the kids and increased the amount of my income that I kept because it changed my shopping habits. I could look at stuff in the grocery store or at Walmart and say “nope, I just threw one of those away because I didn’t need it.”

    The big thing is that it helps to clear your mind. It simplifies your life. I applaud you for taking the time and energy to do this and I can’t tell you how many different aspects of your life it will have a positive affect on.

    God does provide and there is nothing that you get rid of that you won’t get back one way or the other should actually “need” it in the future.

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