Yesterday, I helped my best friend move her stuff out of the storage unit that she’d rented for several years. She was one of a dozen or so victims of a “suspicious” fire at the storage facility that turned their belongings into piles of charred and smoke-damaged rubble. My friend lost about half of her unit’s contents, mainly to smoke damage. Others were less fortunate.
One of my downshifting mantras has always been “less stuff!” I love getting rid of things any way I can: give it away, throw it away, donate it, sell it, you name it. But it’s always been my choice, completely in my control. The tenants at this storage unit didn’t have a choice. Their stuff was simply gone one night. No questions asked. No decisions to be made.
I want to imagine that the fire was a blessing in disguise for some people. No more holding onto that wretched wedding gift from your colorblind aunt. No more wondering if you will ever fit into those pants again. Finally, an excuse to buy new furniture! Sometimes, our stuff — dealing with it, thinking about it, moving it, storing it — drags us down. At some point, not having to deal with it or think about it anymore feels like a huge weight being lifted off our shoulders.
My friend and I breathed sighs of relief as we finished packing up the final truckload to bring to her new storage unit. But we were sad too. We took a final walk around, taking in the eerie scene and trying to identify some of the lost objects. Antique furniture. Motorcycles. Pictures. Childrens’ toys. Family photos. Christmas decorations. So many memories, all tied to the “stuff.”
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the fire. The piles of rubble will be removed. The building will be torn down and rebuilt. The old stuff will be replaced with new, different, better stuff. And the memories that were wrapped up in the old stuff will live on, because no one can take those away.