Two years ago, and a bit, my house looked like this after the flood waters had started receding.
This photo was taken from my top floor bathroom looking down into the backyard and the top of my clothesline.
I didn’t take these photos as I had been home with the kids for my 2 weeks’ holiday. We lost everything on the ground floor which was mostly kids’ toys, a couch, fridge, and all my stuff in storage. Upstairs, volunteers had broken in and removed most of the small things, clothing, books, rugs, etc, and some furniture.
After the floods had completely receded they returned most of this, some of it broken, and I came home to a bonfire heap of my worldly possessions in the middle of my lounge room floor. I admit to spending part of that first day rocking in the foetal position. But mostly, I got stuck into it.
It was just stuff. Stuff that I had fretted and worried about for a week over on the other side of the country. Then fretted a little more when I heard about the volunteers and the idea of, you know, strangers handling my things.
Now I think it may have been post-traumatic stress, but at the time, I thought I had experienced catharsis. The floods had swept through the house and taken the decision making from me in terms of letting go of excess stuff in my life. I threw out the broken and water stained, and then asked myself the question of every item left over, whether I would have cared if it had gone in the flood as well.
This resulted in a week of journeys back and forth to the Vinnies, removing the excess from my life.
The upstairs couch had only been water stained but I decided we didn’t need one and that bean bags on the floor would suffice. So I sold it on ebay for 99c.
Two years on, and you wouldn’t know it. I have stuff again. Granted, not furniture, as I am still very slowly buying piece by piece.
I wish I could have held onto some of the insights, though, into how stuff can own me, and cause stress and unhappiness.