Throw Out Fifty Things

After work yesterday, I made two stops with my items to donate.

First off was a stop at the City Mission with a CD/DVD tower (new, still in box), and a bag of ladies clothing, two brand new pair of shoes (amazing what one will find in one's closet!), some miscellaneous jewelry and a couple watches. I had carried the CD tower around in my trunk for at least three years, then had hauled the heavy thing into the house where it kept getting in my way for a couple years. I used to laugh to myself that the weight of the thing helped give my car enough weight to provide good traction in snow in the winter.

Next stop was to the city library with 17 different DVD sets (68 discs total). The young lady at the counter seemed quite pleased with the assortment and gasped, "Some of these haven't even been opened!" I replied that this was the reason why they needed to be donated - perhaps others would be able to enjoy them more than I.

It felt so good to get those items out of my trunk, but even better to think that my Stuff (yes, Stuff is spelled with a capital S because it has a life of its own) can somehow be recycled in this manner so that someone else might be able to enjoy it - without it having any burden.

It just feels so good to be able to have less things surrounding me. Acknowledging that Stuff has its own energy - most of which is defeating the ability to live a free life - is more than half of the battle.

As a young aspiring writer nearly 40 years ago, I developed a love of books. I seemed to think that I needed to be surrounded by all of the books I'd read (never to read again) and all of the books that I wanted to read, plus any books that might possibly used for reference and research. I've been through the book purge a couple times since then, but after boxing them up for my most recent move I have vowed that I am NOT going to move all of these boxes again! For heaven's sakes, there is a reason why we have public libraries! And with the internet, I only have to go as far as my desk to have access to all of the research material I could possibly ever need.

I have developed the same kind of attachment to music - having amassed a collection of several thousand LPs and 45s (records, anyone remember records?). I began dismantling that collection about 15 years ago through garage sales and eBay. Once you realize that it's not really a collection any more, it's much easier to let go of things. Then came the CDs in the mid-1980s. Having recently organized and alphabetized these in nice plastic containers and see just how much space they take up in a storage closet, I've realized that the CD collection must be pared down as well. After all, I've pretty much gone digital in recent years, transferring my favorite music to mp3 format. It's much easier to manage a hard drive than to find space for 2,000+ CDs (and I may be underestimating that number).

So - weeding out the books, CDs and more DVDs is part of an ongoing process. It really feels good to be able to donate such items to the library, where more people than just myself can have access to them. Even if the library chooses not to add some of my items to their collection, they can offer them at their annual book and media sale and earn some money to buy what they do want for their collection. What's really fantastic is that I do not have to be the archivist or the custodian of this Stuff any longer. Even if I just donate a couple sacks or boxes each week, over time, I am lightening my load. And oh, what a feeling!

Throwing out fifty things is truly a commitment, a passion. I can hardly wait to reach 50 so that I can begin on the next fifty.

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Comment by Gail Blanke on May 31, 2009 at 9:07am
Wow, what a great job you're doing, Susan! And I'm so glad you're getting that terrific sense of freedom that comes from letting go. As you know, my aim for you is not that you'll create this perfect, tidy, organized life - but that you'll be you can move into the next great segment of an already fulfilling life. Btw, check out the Resource Guide in the book and you'll find some great organizations like and others where you can feel really good about "paying things forward." Oh, and post your list of throw-outs when you hit fifty, will you?


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