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A Collective Yearning to Have Less

This past weekend my family and I held a garage sale to get rid of some stuff we would rather not take the time to move, which we will be doing at the end of this month. The four of us hate garage sales with a passion, and vowed many years ago to never host another one. But the prospect of getting rid of junk we don’t want without having to cart it away ourselves or hassling with the freeloader curb alert Craigslist first responders sounded like the better option. The added fact that one of our cars has no trunk and the other is a Smart Car made the sacrifice of standing in our driveway for a few early hours on a Saturday to watch people carry our stuff away attractively worth it. Not only did people come and remove our belongings for us, but they left us crumpled wads of one, five, and twenty dollar bills as tokens of their appreciation. By eight that morning there was nothing but the junkiest of junk. My inventory was no longer drawing prospective customers, who were now just slowing down as they drove on to the next sale. One lone prospect did stop, however, so I made her an offer I thought she would gratefully take me up on. “You have a truck, I see, why don’t you just take all this here with you,” I said as I waved my hand over the entire lot. But she smiled and declined, then turned and walked away.

To be fair to the inventory at hand, not all of it was junk. There were some board games, some flower pots, some really nice dishes and candle holders, and about five hundred dollars in clothes.

I made the same offer to about half a dozen people. In response I saw the same number of smiles, and all but one turn and walk away. (One was on a bicycle).

I’m not so sure people in this country – even those who don’t have much – want much anymore. I think there is a collective yearning to have less, to feel unburdened, to travel light and only own a few quality things that are repairable and last. I think we will find more craftsmen in the future, men and women working out of small shops, selling and servicing their quality higher priced items a few at a time to grateful customers. Society could evolve into an era when very few things except the essential raw materials are mass produced, when “makers” dot the landscape, supplying their regions with products that are interchangeable with makers from other regions.

The future could well resemble the past.

Groovy Guru

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