4: The Liberation of Liquidation

4: The Liberation of Liquidation

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less


The Liberation of Liquidation

Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.

~Edwin Way Teale

Annie and I had been living in a sprawling, three-bedroom, two living area house for over ten years. The house was a rental, but we had been in the place so long it felt like home. We’d originally intended to buy the place from the owner, who had passed away from old age. Now her relatives were ready to sell but we weren’t ready to buy. It was time to move.

“You know,” my sweet wife told me one morning after we’d gotten the news that it was time to move on. “We’ve spent over a decade mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, pruning the trees, and all the other yard work that comes with living in a house. Don’t you think that’s enough?”

I nodded, standing next to her and pondering about paying rent on yet another house. All our children had grown up and gotten married, and my mom, who had come to live with us, had passed on two years before. I supposed we could rent a smaller house, but they seemed a bit hard to come by, and we weren’t yet ready to buy our own house.

“Why don’t we rent an apartment?” my wife said softly at my shoulder. “There would be no mowing, no trimming, and no pruning to do.”

I don’t know,” I argued, immediately thinking of living next to people who would be to the left of us, to the right, down below, and up above. “An apartment is not a house.”

“A cozy, little apartment,” my wife continued, “for just the two of us, a sweet little nest where we could be together.”

“A small apartment would mean less cost,” I conceded. Then I did a reality check and looked around. “But what would we do with all our stuff?”

And did we have a lot of stuff! We had rooms stuffed with stuff. The garage was stacked with boxes. There was so much stuff we didn’t even know what we had.

“What are we going to do with all of our things if we move into a little apartment?” Annie asked. Then her eyes brightened. “Why don’t we put what we don’t need in storage and save it for when we buy our own house?”

So that was the plan. We found a wonderful apartment that was exactly the cozy, beautiful little nest my wife and I were looking for. It was only one bedroom, and so most of our things would have to be packed up and put into storage. That’s when I got the bright idea to just let everything extra go. Everything we had slated to go into storage would be sold or given away instead.

“So you’re serious,” Annie said after I told her my idea. “You want to get rid of everything we can’t take with us?”

“Why not?” I replied. I looked at all the furniture and boxes that wouldn’t see the light of day for a few years. “What happens if we get to like apartment life, or it takes somewhat longer before we can afford to buy a house? Or what if we decide to wait until I retire? That stuff might be in storage forever.”

“True,” Annie replied. “We might not get around to it for a long time.”

“Then again,” I pointed out, “Let’s say we stay in the apartment. We’ll get used to having less very quickly, and all that extra stuff will just be like an anchor around our necks. Why not keep the most important things, things that we treasure, and let someone else have the rest?”

Annie smiled at me. “I think I know who might be able to help.”

So we hired a person who liquidated estates, let her take care of selling or donating three-fourths of everything we’d once thought we couldn’t live without, and moved forward. Walking away from all the stuff we had acquired during our life together was hard, but it was also liberating.

Now, here in our tiny little nest, where it’s just the two of us and those things that are dearest to our hearts, life is a different kind of adventure. In finally getting down to the basics, letting go of the need to have “stuff,” Annie and I are better able to concentrate on our family and each other, and on living a life where what we have isn’t as important to us as who we have in our lives.

~John P. Buentello


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