We recently embarked on the adventure of going through our garage, attic, closets, drawers and dark corners to declutter (again) and sell unwanted items to whomever happened to be looking for things we no longer needed. I never look forward to garage sale days, even though I’ve participated in them more times than I can remember.
There’s something humiliating about collecting all the things we own but don’t want into a concentrated pile-o-crap, only for complete strangers (or worse… friends) to stop by and decide whether or not it is, in fact, worth a whole quarter. Ultimately, though, it’s a win-win. We get rid of our mess while others find just the things they need at very little expense.
I always get the giggles at some point in every garage sale. Usually its over the item that I couldn’t decide whether to throw away or sell, and chose to sell. This year, the annual garage sale giggle fest began over a 7-foot tall, pre-lit Christmas tree my mom and dad had added to the sale. It was a really pretty tree they had used for the past several Christmases.
My husband greeted some ladies who were interested in it, and when they asked if they could see it set up, my eager yard-salesman jumped at the chance to help them remove the tree from the box and even offered an extension cord to help them light it. This is where the giggles began, starting first with my mom.
My Mom knew something my husband didn’t, you see. Word began to spread like “the telephone game” among my family members assembled in the garage. Apparently, my folks had a little trouble lighting up the top section of that tree this past Christmas. Some of the lights were a bit touchy… less than dependable, one could say.
This was information my husband didn’t have before he offered up his extension cord. Mom watched (in hysterics) as my husband worked to sell her would-be-junk tree. She watched from a distance as the lights only partially lit when he plugged it in…then watched the deal go down as the women successfully offered $5 instead of $10.
By the time the ladies were loading their bargain into their car, we were all wiping tears from the sight of my sweet, helpful husband representing the Christmas tree to some folks who, in the end, felt the tree was worth taking home… flaws and all.
At the end of the Garage Sale of 2010, we were all grateful for cleaner closets and a little extra change in our pockets. But I walked away with an interesting metaphor from which I still have a lot to learn.
We all go through life with an interesting array of baggage. It’s stuff we don’t necessarily want, but it’s really hard to muster up the courage to put it out there for strangers (or worse…friends) to see, touch, comment on… or leave us with. At some point, the wise among us decide that it’s not helping anyone to hold on to all this stuff if we want to transform our bulging internal spaces into a better, healthier, more useful existence.
As we start cleaning out all that stuff, there is inevitably something (or several things) we aren’t proud of – a proverbial “partially lit Christmas tree” that we’re pretty sure we shouldn’t have put out there. We assume that if people knew the whole story and all the weak spots of which we are ashamed, rejection will be inevitable.
Just as I hope the little Christmas tree that lit our family celebration just last year will find it’s glow again in someone’s corner of the world, I find myself hoping the internal stuff I choose to let go of this year will better serve the world because I let it go.
When my true self is brought out into the light and nothing is hidden, it’s quite liberating to discover a truth that relieves me to the point of being giddy… one person’s baggage is another person’s inspiration. When we connect with the right people, they remind us that value isn’t found in our perfection, but in our redemption.