An Apology

Marci and I sold our things today. We had a great big garage sale and sold most of the things we owned. Except we didn’t. Turns out we own much more than we knew. So after a day of selling items for twos and fews, we still had several (read hundreds) of items left. So we will be at it again tomorrow.

There is a lesson to be had here. Maybe more than one. The most obvious lesson is when you are planning to sell everything you own, schedule more than one day to do it. Another lesson might be: Have garage sales periodically instead of at the very last minute before taking off and traveling around the world.

But the thing that was on my mind the most is: How much our things tie us to a life with no longer want. I notice this periodically. Anytime someone asks us “what will you do with your stuff?”, I stop a moment. Then I smile because one of the first lessons I learned after the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-Fold Path was how our possessions handcuff us. The lesson was not that our possessions tie us to a life we may not want anymore. The lesson really was that our possessions handcuff us. bracing image of a person imprisoned by boxes of expensive electronics and new cars was the point.8foldpath2

The lesson goes like this. We do not go out and buy a bunch of useless things. We actually go out and buy things we think are very useful or fun. But after a while we have bought so many useful and/or fun things that we are longer agents in our own lives. We are indeed prisoners of our things. The car makes a noise on the way to work, we must thing about getting the car fixed. The washing machine floods we must clean the mess and have the washer replaced.

Our things are the prison bars, the prison guards, the handcuffs that keep us in place. How lovely it would be to not think about repairing the car or replacing the washer. Not to mention all the work (be it at a job or not) that goes into actually finding the money to first purchase the item, then to maintain the item.

Today, Marci and I let the things in our lives go to people we have no grudge against. Indeed most of the people who bought from us are our neighbors. Some are very good friends. We did not make a profit so to speak. But with each item we packed off to someone else’s life we freed ourselves a bit. For that we are grateful. Our neighbors and friends got great stuff at rock bottom prices. Sorry about that.

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