Interesting conversations: resistance
I’ve had some interesting conversations lately with my parents and another couple I know, as well as with a coworker.
My parents are concerned, especially my dad. I think more than anything, he’s embarrassed for how “stuff” has consumed his life… and for his inability to let it go. His parents lived through the Depression. One of his first early memories is of helping Grandma “sheetrock” the loft area of their small home so the kids could live upstairs. They got cardboard, glued white sheets over it, and stuck it up against the studs. No insulation. At the time there were three kids and four adults in that small house, a house with no bathroom and minimal conveniences. It frightens him to think that I might “live like that”. He has no idea how much easier living off grid and/or living more simply and sustainably has become through the years. It’s been difficult to get him to understand that rather than working to accumulate more technology, it would be better to let the technology I need begin working for me-that rather than having a load of gadgets I use occasionally, I could obtain a few high end gadgets that would replace more traditional gadgets in my home. A convection oven/microwave rather than a toaster oven, microwave, and conventional oven as separate entities, for instance, when I only bake a few larger items a year.
Composting toilets, solar energy, solar water heaters, and tankless water heaters disturb Dad. He admits they are interesting technology, but doesn’t believe they should replace conventional methods. What if something goes wrong? What if they don’t work as well as I think they will? My response: I understand the concern. But what if they do? What if by simplifying I could not only live cheaper, but happier?
I admitted my surprise at Dad’s reaction to my downsizing to a coworker. He remarked that giving away things was a concern, because it was a strong indicator of suicide. I hadn’t thought of that, though I know it’s true. The only thing is, I know I’m not suicidal. I’m happier and freer now than I was. The huge difference is I am giving things away so that I can live, not die. I’m not giving things to loved ones to remember me by. I’m donating excess. I seriously doubt my parents have been concerned about suicide… they’ve seen my house and know how much I’ve accumulated. They’re well aware of the family hoarding genes. But I’d forgotten others might not be.
Then I had a conversation with a couple who is living with three kids in about 1700 square feet. They are in financial trouble, and they said they didn’t have a big enough house even now. But as we talked, the wife remembered she had many items stored that the kids had outgrown. Things that were possibly worth a considerable amount of money. Things she’d forgotten about and that in getting rid of would help them financially and increase their space by decreasing excess. By the end of the conversation she was getting a little excited about downsizing, herself.
My sister is excited. She’s cleaning out the basement and selling some items. She’s made a decent amount of pocket change, increased their livable space, and knows they’ll never miss what they’ve gotten rid of. It’s a very motivating revelation.