The Hold of Stuff

I gave a friend a chain saw that another friend had given me. It was a great saw, and a joy to use. All around me are trees that need trimming or encroach into the yard. There’s no logical reason for me to have given it away, but I felt better about having released it immediately. The saw was never mine to begin with, but I’ve had a couple of moments of regret for having given it up. Such is the hold of stuff in our lives.

Looking at the garden, it’s clear that I’ve over-planted. What appears to be empty space in May is chock full of healthy plants muscling each other out for space. It’s a common gardening mistake and I’ve made it many times. I’ve got to thin out the garden and relocate some plants that I eagerly purchased just a few months ago.

I spent the first two months of gardening season pulling morning glory seedlings out of the garden. Like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill it’s an impossible task. Once they’re in your garden they’re a part of your life. And sure enough I went away on a business trip and came back to a thriving morning glory population laughing and singing in the sun along with those unruly cherry tomatoes. They’re mocking me, I know it.

As I was writing this I glanced up and saw a rabbit on the lawn. By the second paragraph there was a second one. I refilled my coffee cup and walked out to see a third. The rabbits were offering emphasis literally right before my eyes. Stuff accumulates in our lives and sometimes an aggressive pruning is required. But you can’t stop with one pruning, because things can get out of hand quickly (The rabbits returned when our dog passed. I can’t say I prefer the trade-off but we’ve learned to coexist).

So I gave up the chain saw that could help thin out trees encroaching on the yard like those morning glories encroach in the garden. Not the best choice for eliminating stuff, yet I feel better for having done so. I can borrow it back if I need to, and don’t have the burden of ownership that comes with accumulation. It’s a small beacon of hope in a house full of twenty years of this and that and the other thing.

The friends who gave me the chain saw could teach a master class in simplification. They stepped down from a house full of stuff to an apartment full of less stuff to a sailboat with just the essentials. Nothing forces aggressive pruning like downsizing (It’s not like they can tow a shed around with them). We aren’t downsizing at this time, but the siren of simplification is calling, and it’s time to listen.

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