I have no idea what prompted it, but one day in late October, I got this overwhelming urge to give away a great deal of what I have laying about the house, to strip down to the essentials and rid myself of the extraneous. The feeling proved not to be fleeting, but one that grew into a driving force.
First came loads of clothing and shoes to Goodwill and that led to gifts stereo gear, furniture, outdoor gear and apparel, and all sorts of ski gear to people who truly had a need for them. For example, at Christmas a bag full of warm jackets was taken over to the Bethlehem Inn the week before Christmas.
The point of this is not to call attention to myself as a saintly donor but to reinforce how good it is to not only to give things away but to trim down one’s personal inventory of stuff.
My end-of-the-year task has been throwing away (two recycle carts worth so far) some 35 years of magazines and newspapers. I might have had only a teeny photo or as little as a two-line blurb in some publication and that meant, of course, that I had to keep a copy of said publication.
Next up on my giveaway list is my collection of ski books. I’ve offered it via a ski magazine article to any ski club, library or school that might be interested. It’s comprised of well over 100 books – some rare, some pedestrian and some simply worth having for their kitsch value. My particular favorite is the official roster for the Soviet Union team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
After the books are gone there will be work on getting my collection of vintage and historic cross country ski memorabilia (boots, bindings and skis) accepted by either the Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Michigan or by some private collector.
Then they’ll be another attack on clothes and siege of Craigslist with sporting goods items with a net result, hopefully, of a clutter-free existence come late spring.
Certainly I’ll never get back to the days when a move from one house to another meant one load in my old VW van, but I can strive for a Katharine Hepburn-esque existence. Hepburn, as was noted on a famous “60 Minutes” interview, chose to live in a sparsely furnished apartment and had only a few items in her personal wardrobe.
Hepburn wasn’t a nutcase, but rather someone who realized that clutter and chattels can keep you down and take away your freedom. And as I’m finding, giving things up is very liberating.