We cleaned our garage yesterday, an annual task I find myself dreading as the scheduled day approaches. I generally take care of the inside of the house, and the garage, shed and yard falls under Jason's responsibility. Let's just say that his attention to detail is significantly lower than mine. He treats the yard like a newborn which requires infinite love and attention, but the garage and the shed become like neglected, angry teenagers, locked in their rooms and separated from the rest of the family.
Annually, I step in to set a date for this wretched job, and I try to dirty my hands as little as possible while still urging the job to its full completion point. Usually we fight and argue the entire time, with me laying blame and Jason becoming more and more irritated with me. This year I took a different tactic, and decided to face my fear of rats and cat-sized spiders lurking in dark corners, and actually plunged into the job alongside of him.
As a result, the job was finished in a matter of a few short hours, with no arguing or angry words exchanged, and looked better at the end than it ever has before. We could entertain and serve meals in there right now. It's a beautiful thing to behold. We make the usual promises to ourselves to keep it neat and organized, but if history has taught us anything, we'll lose all of our resolve over the long, cold winter, and next year at this time we'll be right back where we started. But for now, I feel like standing in it all day and beaming with pride.
Cleaning up stuff we own but don't use sharpens my resolve to simply own less. Buy less, and therefore maintain less. I hate buying into our cultural message that we must have more, more, more. More debt, more stress, more frustration when things break or take up all of our living space. I was offended when someone recently said to me, "I thought you just moved in, because your house is so empty." After yesterday, I take that as a compliment.
I'm making a new resolution to stand up to my culture and just say no to the pressure to buy more product that I don't really need. It's easy to say right now, and will be harder when I'm standing in a store or see something cool advertised, but I will ask myself if it's something I'll be taking to the dump during my next garage or house clean-up. We don't need most of what we own. I want to put my energy into creating memories, not maintaining products eventually destined for the landfill.