Downsizing

Luke 12:13-21

I’ve been trying to downsize for years. I’ve had my share of yard sales. I’m not very good at them and tend to flail around wondering how to lay out the merchandise.

During and after my move from Maine to Michigan I went through books and papers that I hadn’t seen in decades!  “Experts” advise throwing out such things without looking carefully at them, saying that if you haven’t needed them by now, you can live without them!

Certainly I have disposed of college papers and tests, giving them only a quick glance. But reading reflections that I wrote during the Women’s Movement and when I was immersed in workshops on white racism, has helped me in the “life review” that is one of the tasks of aging. Those reflections have also inspired me to share some of my inner experiences with a wider audience.

I am challenged by the man who wanted to build bigger barns in Luke 12:13-21.  It’s easy to keep one’s distance in thinking about this parable because very few of us depend on crops for our livelihood, and perhaps there are some reading this who have never seen a barn!

Comedian Steven Wright quipped: “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” and George Carlin observed that the “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”

We have garages that are too full of stuff to have room for our cars, storage lockers we rent to contain more stuff, and cloud backups of all sorts of technical stuff.

The “stuff” I want to preserve is my writing and the books that have inspired me. When I lose some part of that I feel like I have lost part of my life. That is where I feel vulnerable, but isn’t that the same as the farmer and his barn? Both he and I want to preserve the tools and results of our work!

What “stuff” do you have where the idea of losing it makes you feel threatened?

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About Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith has 20 years’ experience in technical writing and management in software companies. She also has more than 20 years in Christian ministry as an educator, course designer, retreat leader, spiritual director, pastor, and coach. A United Methodist Deacon, Smith has her M.Div. from Boston University. She is a graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, and is certified in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Leadership from Boston College.
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2 Responses to Downsizing

  1. Frank Ober says:

    Nancy: That certainly is the challenge. What is really important? I spent some time today thinning out some of my cooking pans and dishes getting rid of duplicates and unused items. At some point I will need to do that with my books, getting rid of those that I really will never read. I did that once with books on beekeeping and then a few years later my daughter decided to take up bee keeping. Woops! I certainly have way too much information in print form some of which I have collected in my role in government. But what will never be needed? It is hard for me to say but I know that I am running out of room and do need to get rid of “Stuff” so I will have room for other stuff that is more valuable to me at this time in my life. I have set a time goal to have this underway but there is no hard date for it to be complete. Not good! Too easy to put it off into the future. In dealing with my sisters home at the time of her death, I am finding so much “stuff” that has value that was not cared for properly. So some of it will be lost to the next generation some of which is part of our heritage: photos of grandparents, parents and our earlier life. Of course, if there is no trace, then we would never miss it but sometimes there are traces which are tantalizing but too scarce to trace. I am grateful that I have the room to keep all the “stuff” and do not have to downsize to move elsewhere but there is an advantage to being placed in that spot of having to downsize. But, at the same time I recognize that someone will have to deal with it after my death which is not fair to them, so I fell the need to do something about at least some of it. Peace, Frank

    • Nancy Smith says:

      Frank, thank you for your comments. I wasn’t even thinking about your situation of settling your sister’s affairs and going through her “stuff.” I also know you are the kind of person who brings stuff home from various places, repairs it if necessary, and gives it away to those in need. That is what we are supposed to do, rather than building bigger barns! Also, while writing this, I realized that if I am able to realize some of my dreams, much of my “stuff” will go out in a different form that will be helpful to others!

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