I recently returned from British Columbia where I joined my siblings in packing up our childhood home. My parents had sold their house and we faced the seemingly herculean task of sifting through over fifty years of accumulated possessions.
Having arrived (with dutiful husband in tow) several days ahead of other family members, the first order of the day was to separate chaff from grain. In other words, weed out inessentials not destined for the moving truck – our estimate was two-thirds of the lot.
As we strolled through the house to assess what stayed and what would go, I had only two thoughts, OMG and where do we begin? That was just the first floor. We set up four stations: keepers, trash, donations and recycling. We were on a mission.
How would I describe my parent’s home? Imagine Costco meets Chinese apothecary. It would have made any survivalist green with envy.
The biggest challenge was clearing out the kitchen cupboards, which involved crawling into dark cavernous spaces and pulling out the unimaginable, like hundreds of plastic grocery bags and empty margarine tubs (the latter I physically wrestled away from my mother). More perplexing were food products that had expired fifteen years ago.
An adventure of its own was sorting my parent’s collection of Chinese herbs and potions. Given my interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine, I would normally welcome this task, but many of the long-forgotten purchases had reached their best before date decades ago (imagine packages of dust). One particular item caught my interest. “What is this?” I asked my father as I held out a shrivelled, blackish lump. He glanced at it and matter-of-factly replied, “Oh, deer testicle.” Okay. The winner on the “yuck” scale.
After countless runs to the thrift shop and recycling depot and dozens of trash bags later, we had successfully gained the upper hand. Battle fatigued, we welcomed the arrival of reinforcements.
Looking back on the whole experience, I thank my parents for inspiring me to adopt the merits of living a simple, clutter-free life. Thanks to them, I’ve learned to embrace and appreciate the following truth by Leonardo Da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Thanks mom and dad.
Are you ready to let go of the clutter in your life?