Out With the Old, In With the You

I’m not the biggest fan of suburban life but perks like no-sweat parking and more living space are undeniable.  The yard sale too, the quintessential suburban event, is another.  I brake for them–and any thrift-type store–in my line of vision.

Proving evolution hasn’t killed the thrill of the hunt,  I’ve put to good use dozens of finds like brand-new, never-opened office supplies or the adorable end table repurposed to hold bathroom towels.  Discovering secondhand items I wouldn’t have considered purchasing retail generates creative opportunities I wouldn’t have ever taken.

When I first began thrifting years ago, the concept was fraught with stigma (socially acceptable terms were ‘antique’ or ‘vintage’).  Now not so much.  With our growing sensitivity toward recycling, thinking “green,”  being crafty and a desire to pare down, secondhand stores have become trendy.

But still: Why pick through someone’s past?  Glimpsing briefly into others’ lives I witness a condensed timeline.  What did they hold dear?  Which milestones defined their lives?  Why do they want to dispose of these markers?  Are they ready?

Young families change homes and forge ahead to the future while others clean out lifetimes–theirs or those of loved ones. That reality may be the most difficult. We affix our projections and sentiments to inanimate objects. They are tangible reminders of our past, proof of its existence.  To watch a buyer walk away with a child’s prom dress, crib or a well-loved lounge chair is, no doubt, an exercise in letting go.

Unburdening sets in motion a coming to terms with the end of a time we may have treasured or a goal we must admit we won’t reach.  Several years ago, after holding onto them long after any further realistic possibility, I gave away boxes of baby clothes my kids had worn, finally accepting  I would not, once more, be the mother of a newborn.

Then again, tossing isn’t necessarily negative.  Emotional freedom can perhaps be gained from items discarded.  Though the stuff our dreams were once attached to may get the heave-ho, different owners can breathe new life into things no longer of use to us.

Castoff rites are helpful psychological prompts defining a ‘before’ and ‘after.’   The Jewish New Year ritual Tashlich (pronounced TASH-leekh), practiced by some, symbolizes a casting off of our previous year’s misdeeds and offenses by tossing pieces of bread into a body of water.  The release grants us space to reboot, release our regrets, take vows toward personal improvement, forgive others and–what could be most challenging– ourselves.

Outer skin can be easily shed. What we hold in our hearts and minds is not.  Changes, if they happen at all, are slow. The real work is within. Our hopes are to start fresh and make room for new experiences–not new stuff.

Accoutrements are our armor.  Stripping ourselves of our airs and attitudes leaves only who you are at the core.  You were there all along.

X, S




7 thoughts on “Out With the Old, In With the You

  1. Love this! I’ve just gotten into thrift shopping. Two months down the road I have fabulous thrift clothes … And items I should toss. Thanks for the perspective, I’ll keep it in mind as I go through my closet tonight…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue,
    SO enjoyed this one! Found myself shaking my head in agreement with so many thoughts you have written down. I also have found some lovely bargains in the gemach stores here. A new friend who does not want for anything, loves sharing her new found bargains with me. She has a satisfying impish grin on her face when she does.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I, too, love yard sales, although I must admit that the real yard-saler around here is my husband. He can’t resist one! At this stage in my life I’m more about tossing things than acquiring them. I loved reading about the tradition of Tashlich. I am enamored of any religious tradition that says “Go ahead. Start fresh.” Growing up Catholic, I was always a fan of The Rite of Penance. The idea that each week I could confess my sins and start anew? It never failed to make me feel lighter. There is a peacefulness attached to unburdening, whether it is from sin or from stuff, wouldn’t you agree?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My wife tells me her parents were very into yard sales. She has been talking about having a garage sale. Me – I’m not so into it. I don’t have the patience to sift through other people’s stuff. I think if I did I would find stuff that I want and ultimately just have more stuff. I’d have more to unburden!

    Liked by 1 person

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