all that we already own

"I'm done playing with that, Mom. I'm ready to sell it to someone else." --Amelia

Not until our recent downsize did I realize how much work it is to dispose of things, or at least to dispose of them well. My kitchen has three trash receptacles: one for food and unrecyclables, one for recycling all paper and cardboard, and a third for recycling all metal and glass and #1 and 2 plastics. I couldn't find a donation truck to pick up all our extra furniture and large items, or even clothing and small household items, so I've spent months posting things to craigslist and scheduling pick-ups. I think this effort--even more than the size of our new abode--has made me much more selective about what we purchase.

Then there's the freedom of being without all the unnecessary stuff that accumulates in our life, and I hesitate to be under such a burden again. Our purchasing decisions are shifting as we remember that it's generally more fulfilling to be a creator than a consumer. Amelia saw a fishing pole she wanted to play with Sunday at the Fifth Avenue fair, but other kids were all over it. We walked away, but she was fixated on the idea of playing with a fishing pole. I told her we surely had the supplies at home to make our own, and her disappointment transformed to anticipation in an instant. We made the pole together, along with a construction paper fish and pond. She began reenacting one of her favorite books: The Little Fish that Got Away . Yesterday we were making a princess crown, complete with jewels and glitter glue. I didn't even know I had jewels and glitter glue until sorting our belongings during the Big Move.

I wonder how many of my fellow Americans join me in being disconnected to all that we already own. Some people wonder what life would be like if we were inundated with commercials for broccoli and carrots; I wonder what it would be like to see ads featuring the cool things we already own. (You think these antiques are cool? How about the cool salt and pepper shakers from Grandma burried in your cupboards? Uncover, polish and display.) One of my favorite hobbies now is to look at shops not through the lens of What do I want here?, but I look instead for staging ideas. How can I arrange my home to emphasize the beauty of the space and our dear things?

Maybe we need to add an R to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (now I often also see Repair): Rediscover. If we could learn to enjoy what we have more fully--like tasting the bite in our mouths--maybe we could curb those cravings for an endless more.

One friend told me her theory about how people's priorities differ. "We have this couple we're friends with", she explained, "who always have the new gadget or a bigger home or a newer car. We don't get into that; we go to Breckenridge and concerts and take camping trips. I think there are Havers in life and there are Doers. Don't worry about moving to New York--you're just becoming a Doer." Using our funds for experiences makes so much more sense to me. They say You Can't Take it With You, but our experiences actually form who we are becoming.