Sometime in the morning, while we were at work, the water return pipe in the bathroom upstairs split and started pumping water onto the floor. It washed down the cold air return, destroying the furnace. The carpets outside of the bathroom were soaked, and water washed down into the floor below.
From there things got interesting. The water moved through the main floor’s ceiling, dripping everywhere, eventually creating holes allowing it to pour more freely. The main floor was eventually drenched. Then, the process repeated itself in the basement. By the time the leak was discovered a large section of the ceiling down there had caved in, and several inches of water had accumulated.
Ultimately, due to mold and rot concerns, we were forced to move out the next day. This was almost two weeks ago, and last I checked the place still hadn’t dried.
That first night though, after sending our daughter to a friend’s house, we decided to spend the night there hoping against hope that everything would be fine. Industrial dehumidifiers on every floor and dozens of huge fans shook the place, and we sincerely hoped that somehow, some way, the water would dry out and we wouldn’t be forced from the place that had been our home for the past decade.
Even as we laid there in bed that night, the room thundering like a factory floor, we knew in our hearts that this was the end of our life in this place.
Somehow it was difficult to be upset about it though. Even though this was the end of this house, it was hardly the end of us.
So the next morning, when the place only got more humid and the carpets only seemed to get more soaked, we went about the business of packing the place up as quickly as possible. Since time was against us and we needed to extract the critical stuff first, we packed asking one question above all else: “do we really need this thing?”
The answer was astounding. As we packed up our house, we discovered hundreds of pounds of keepsakes, appliances, books and nick-nacks that we just didn’t need. The sheer volume of the objects we owned that weren’t actually necessary truly astounded us. When we bought these things they were precious to us. Now, they were being tossed into extra-large black garbage bags, not worth the strain of packing properly, and were being shipped off to the Goodwill or the dumpster.
Let’s be clear, though: our home has never really seemed cluttered. It wasn’t until we were forced to look in every corner and forgotten drawer that we realized how many things had piled up over the years.
In the end, we got rid of almost half of everything we owned. In the new house you can’t tell, it looks reasonably well furnished and we lack for nothing. We just de-cluttered.
What I never could have anticipated is how amazing this feels. It’s true what they say: our possessions end up owning us. Getting rid of them truly has made us feel free, and living in this new house feels much more civilized and healthy knowing that there isn’t anything hiding in the corners or forgotten in cupboards.
I’m not saying that I’m ready to live a monk’s life (we’re still looking for the “right” new couch, for instance) but now we only let things in that will serve our lives, and immediately rid ourselves of useless baggage. Our attitudes have really shifted, and we find that when we see something beautiful in the world we’re no longer as inclined to want to own it. The thought of owning something we don’t need, in fact, has begun to seem strangely self-destructive.
This fresh start feels so good, it’s a wonder we didn’t do it ages ago. Spring is coming up. Plan some cleaning. You’ll be amazed how it affects your mind and soul.
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