Friday, July 27, 2012

Downsizing Possessions in a Materialistic World

Mercier sculpture and art books
We started downsizing our possessions years before we moved to Hawaii. We had  garage sales every month, gave car loads of things to Goodwill, and hired people to haul away things that were too heavy for us to move. We were amazed at how much stuff we had packed into a 2200 square foot house in 10 years. We  reduced our belongings by more than 70%, but even with all that effort we filled a 20 foot container with our stuff when we moved to Hawaii.

Since moving to Hawaii, we have had the gift of time to read books we have been collecting for years and enjoy old movies and music we brought.  We have been able to sort through boxes of photographs and every year we put up the fake Christmas tree we brought and reminisce while hanging our collection of tree ornaments.
Initially, we stored our boxes of possessions in the garage of our rental house in Hilo, however, when we moved to a smaller condominium in Kona, we had to rent a storage unit. 

During visits to our storage unit in Kona over the past few years, we have observed the continuing drama of an elderly couple and their 50-something children with a storage unit near ours.  During the family’s visitations to their storage unit, the elderly couple sits in chairs facing the open unit stacked to the ceiling with boxes as their children carefully unpack one box at a time. We have watched them unpack gleaming ceramics from the Orient, which from afar look like museum pieces.  As each piece is held, the couple recounts the story of a trip or adventure when it was acquired.  Their children interrupt to try and convince them to sell it.  A few treasures are taken away, but most items are carefully repacked and returned to the mountain of boxes.  After watching this family’s drama over the years, we look at our own stack of boxes filled with art, collectibles, and books that we cannot seem part with and realize how many treasured memories they represent for us.

One of the benefits of our new rental home on the Kohala Coast is that there is enough space for all of the boxes in our storage unit. Every week, we drive to Kona to fill our car with our stuff and unload them into our new place.  Our home is rapidly filling up with bronze sculptures and art books that we have not unpacked since we moved to Hawaii five years ago.  

Though we enjoy the possessions we brought to Hawaii, we realize the strong attachment we have to our stuff makes us less mobile and adds to our cost of living in Hawaii.

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