By Qin Sun Stubis
Every creature on earth has a home suitable to its needs, be it a shell on its back, a burrow dug into the dirt, a fluffy nest, or a palace made of gold. We feel most comfortable and relaxed when we are in our own home and invest a lot of time and effort into it. Of course, being creatures with long lifespans, over time we collect all sorts of things we take a fancy to, or are sentimental about. And, very often we overdo it.
For most Americans, a home is still the biggest investment of our lifetime. When starting out as a young family, we pull all our resources together to buy, rent, or build a place of our own. Through years of raising children, developing careers and nesting, we accumulate a lot of stuff in our drawers, closets, basements, and attics, unaware of the sheer volume of it until one day we are forced to move out for one reason or another, and need to pack it all up.
When my husband and I bought a house in Great Neck, New York ten years ago, I never thought that one day we would have to relocate, but that day did come. For ten years, things had quietly grown in quantity around me without my noticing. As the moving date got nearer, I started to panic: I saw no end to the packing! A lot of things magically appeared or resurfaced from all corners of the house, things that I hadn’t seen for years.
There were clothes, books, and toys my kids had outgrown a long time ago but I had tucked away for sentimental reasons; gifts still in boxes, untouched shirts, and sweaters sitting on shelves, and forgotten household items. All of a sudden, I came to a realization that I’d become a pack rat, or maybe a clumsy snail with an oversized heavy shell that I couldn’t maneuver now that I needed to run.
For someone who grew up in China with just a shirt on her back, I’m surprised at how comfortable I have become surrounded by things. I quickly came to my senses that it was time for me to change my tactics. While all the things I found brought back a lot of fond memories, I don’t need them to remember the past. Instead of packing them up for my move, I started to pack them up for charity. Donating what you truly don’t need is a good thing.
As you change your wardrobe from spring to summer this year, don’t forget to lighten your load by donating the things you won’t use to those in need. Remember, a lot of less fortunate families out there could use all your surplus memorabilia. And best of all, you’ll still have your memories.
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