Here I am moving house. And just as I thought I’d manage to get rid of old, broken, unwanted stuff, I went to a Yard sale. Went home with boxes of someone’s old, now my new. Days before that, I was lamenting the excess of things. “Our lives are too full,” I said. Of things we buy, of gifts, of the old we keep and forget. Yes we de-clutter, but as we let go of old, there’s a need to replace them anew. My excuse: I have a bigger house to fill and so demanded more things. Now I am home and to compensate for remorse, I peep inside closets again, purge some more, and have another garage sale.

What is so enticing about delightful bric-a-bracs and bargains? There was so much stuff I wanted to snatch up. That, despite going to a Yard Sale, resolute that I was just buying baskets, good books and canisters (don’t ask me what I went home with.) Acquire with purpose. It does not happen. I panic. Everyone there was vying and competing for treasures, and so I sort of bought on impulse. Seize or someone else will seize the day.

There goes simplified life. Or buying things with meaning. Well maybe I’m just too hard on myself. Because really, I’m bestowing utility for what was another’s junk, reusing and up-cycling, and that was definitely much much better than going to a mall and buying new. These were once-loved items, too beautiful (undeniably a steal) to resist, and somehow I know I’ll have new use for them. But that doesn’t change my lamentation last week: we’re all stuck in this crisis of having too much stuff.

That doesn’t mean I want to live in bare dwellings, ditch my car for a bike, or never buy new again. And while my husband can have the same wardrobe for years, I can’t honestly embrace that lifestyle. Is there a healthy balance between mindless buying and extreme frugality?

I guess my compromise is this: Donate, sell or throw out what I no longer need. If I haven’t used it in a year, it’s junk. (Passed.) Including sentimental junk. (Passed.) Really, why keep something that has served no real purpose for a year? These include future plans to do this and that, “to use someday” junk. I had a superabundance of books, magazines, DVDs, stuffed animals and keepsakes. They’re all someone else’s now. Or trash.

My second compromise: stop buying delightful bric-a-bracs. This I have to work on. I just overindulged. I cannot resist another dragonfly brooch. But I won’t agonize about it. It hangs quite nicely on my desk.

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