From Where I Sit – No Place Here

Three events that came together this past weekend got me thinking. The first was my involvement in our annual multi-family garage sale. This time it was at my mom’s place fifty kilometres from where I live. A person has to be very committed to the endeavour to take part, what with the travel and time required to set up, work, and pack up at the end.

Beside the obvious benefits of creating more space and money, there is something else at play here. The exercise forces some thought. That thinking should analyze past purchases and inform future buying decisions. It should cast a light on our relationship to things. It should help us decide when to cut our losses and part ways with something even if we lose money in the process. It should prevent similar buying mistakes. It should create gratitude for those things that served us long and well and that we are now ready to release.

On the first afternoon of the sale, I left early and drove to Edmonton to pre-view and pre-buy at a Ukrainian themed vintage sale. Am I the only one to see the irony in selling at one place and buying at another? Only I would know that some of the very things for sale there are similar to things I sold at long ago garage sales of my own. When my interests were different or I was distancing myself from my roots or space was tight, I sold my Ukrainian pottery. Not the handmade stuff. The kind of functional white ware with cross-stitch decals that is then fired and finds itself in cupboards and china cabinets. I didn’t buy any on Friday. But I did find other small items (carved wooden plate and trinket box, small linen piece, poppy painting on tile, beaded necklace, two leather bracelets, art cards, movie video). There was much more I coveted.

Thirdly, my eighty-something godmother gave me a five-thousand-dollar cheque. Her plan is to give each of her twelve godchildren a cheque now, while we can use it. It was a generous and unexpected gift. I told her I would consider what to do with it and let her know when I decided. Buying something as a remembrance seemed the logical thing to do. By the next morning it hit me. I would use it to buy an experience not a thing. I would use it to travel to Ukraine, which has become a recent bucket list goal.

Buying versus selling, collecting versus purging, acquiring versus living. No one, including me, is going to stop shopping. Nor should we. But over time, my buying has changed. The purchases are more meaningful and less frequent. Maybe, at this point they’ll also become more experiential than tangible, more memory-making than dust collecting. The beauty of that is there is no need (or ability) to sell them. In the meantime, I’ll love and use what I value and part with the rest. And if my tastes change again, I’ll chock it up to growth. Regret has no place here, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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