Sunday, January 12, 2014

Simple Living(or Smile, don't Stockpile)

After my grandfather passed away earlier this year, my father and family had to help clear out his apartment. We had already spent a long time a few years ago, consolidating, donating, salvaging and tossing most of his items when he moved from his house to the apartment he moved into. And yet in the years since he moved, he again managed to accumulate quite a few possessions. He came from a generation that had lived through the generation and didn't let anything go to waste. He would save a screw because he knew he'd (eventually) need one. And on several occasions that I can remember as a young kid, he'd be working on something and tell me to fetch the 3/8 inch screw on the second shelf down on the left in the right side of the rear garage. Or something like that-his memory was far better than mine currently. And sure enough that screw that he had saved from years before was exactly where he needed it.

I loved him for that and I have found that I have started to do the same- holding on to gear that I no longer use just on the off-chance circumstance when my friend who spontaneously comes over forgot his 10 1/2 running shoes(or jacket, climbing harness, x-c skis, boots, shampoo, razor etc). And while there certainly has been a few times that this has come in handy[when my brother, Matt, decided to spontaneously run a marathon and needed to borrow: running shoes, shorts, shirt, socks, and Gu, comes to mind. Seriously.], there really is not much use for this hoarding.

There are three problems with this. The first is that I probably would be better off donating the stuff now so someone could use it now not just if they serendipitously need something while at my house. The second problem is that it clutters our apartment making cleaning more challenging. The third, and most egregious, is that I don't need all this stuff! Why do I have so much stuff? Economists will tell you that we need to spend money and buy things in order to keep the economy running, but I would imagine that environmentalists would say that all of this stuff from its production, shipment across the world all the way to when it eventually makes it to the landfills isn't all that good for keeping the earth running.

No offense to the economists but I'm going to side with the environmentalists. Therefore, I'm going to issue a challenge for myself which I would like to extend to you all as well. Here's your mission if you choose to accept it:

  • Don't buy anything new if you have a similar object or can borrow one. Where I am going to have the most challenge with this is running shoes. I'm always so nervous that one of my favorite models will go out of production that I end up stockpiling shoes so I have enough. Well, I have enough. I could probably go several years without buying another pair of shoes. And Amber could go a few decades thanks to Zoot
  • Give away at least one object per month to someone who can actually use it. I just gave away(very begrudgingly) all of my trad climbing protection. Let me clarify something: I have never trad climbed. I bought it when I was doing a lot of sport climbing and that was the natural progression. It was sitting in my attic for a few years now unused. Amber's cousin will probably use it more a week than I will have ever used it. The point is: evaluate what you actually need. You will be amazed how little it is. 
    Between Brooks and Nike I have MORE than enough shoes to last quite a while.(I won't show you Amber's shoe rack(s) ). 
  • Save mementos but only real mementos. If you weren't sure whether I am neurotic then this will set you straight. Until about a month ago, I had saved every birthday card I had ever received. Sorting through them, I realized many of them didn't have anything in them of import and some were from people I no longer know. I kept a few memorable ones(my 21st birthday card from my adopted grandmother who wrote to me not to party "too hard"), but then tossed the rest. And that's the rule: if it's not memorable or meaningful, get rid of it. 
  • Buy experiences, not gifts. For any of your family, friends' birthdays, try to gift them an experience(my parents are doing this for us-most recently getting us surfing lessons) instead of something that they may already have five of. 
  • Decline the race shirts. I have already started doing this but if you're like me and have more than you know what to do with just decline the race shirt. Or get it in a size that you can give to someone that may need it. Same goes for all that free stuff given out at the expos. You don't need it. I promise.
  • Don't skimp on the workout gear. Nobody will want to run with you if you're the stinky kid that always runs in the same smelly shorts. Have enough so you can cycle through them between washes. This means less if you have a laundry at home and probably a few more if you go to the laundromat. The point is: run solo or run clean:) 
  • Have fun. Remember: you are only as rich as your experiences and those with whom you share them. Possessions wouldn't make you happier. Be in the moment and enjoy your life. This is the only time we get to enjoy it. 

Up Next: Maverick Multisport meet and greet, bike-fit in Louisville, then road trip back to NH. 

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