Yard Sales

2014-10-11 08.04.59Our neighborhood holds two community yard sales every year, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. It seems that life has not afforded us the ability to slow down in recent years to actually take part in them. Although they are called “Community Yard Sale” the only thing “community” about them is that the whole community is in on it. In other words, these are the only two times throughout the year that you are allowed to have a yard sale, if you want to have one any other time during the year, you will be in violation of the HOA rules. One other rule of yard sales in our neighborhood: they always seem to be scheduled on days with the crappiest weather!

At any given time in our house we are getting rid of stuff. With three continually growing children, we are always setting aside hand-me-downs for cousins or getting rid of unused toys. My wife and I are always trying to clear the clutter as best as possible by getting rid of unused “stuff” as well. My wife has actually helped me to get a whole lot better about this over the years that we have been married. I hold things too closely, sentimentalizing things that should just remain as stuff.

Over the past year, we have been trying to get “my room” settled and straight. That’s a task that is much easier said than done as I am a collector and the room isn’t that big. So, my wife took to the internet to find a solution for our space problem. Thank God for Pinterest, right? With a large collection of music and movies, it was a tough task to accomplish.

Let’s face it, everyone’s going digital! CDs, DVDs, and Blu Rays are just not flying off of the shelves. People would much rather store stuff in the “Cloud” rather than figure out how to store it all. I started my collection too long ago to try that approach, but it’s a battle.

I’ve put lots of CDs onto my computer to conserve space or make room for more music, I’ve gotten rid of plenty of movies that I just wasn’t going to watch again. But when I’ve tried to get rid of them, I’ve found myself frustrated and depressed as no one wants to buy them. Boxes have been sitting around for months awaiting this yard sale, in hopes that someone might come along who still wants to support this “antiquated” medium of listening to music and watching movies.

As I sat out in our driveway the other day, rain spitting down from the heavens, I surveyed the cornucopia of “stuff” that sat there, slowly getting wetter in the hazy rain. Old children’s toys. Multimedia shelving. CDs and DVDs. I thought to myself, is this stuff really worth it? Is it worth sitting out here on a miserable, rainy Fall day? Did I really value this stuff this much? What did it mean to me?

Things are only valuable if someone else attaches the same value to it that you have? In fact, you can have what seems to be the most valuable thing in the world to you and if nobody else sees and appreciates that same value, it’s not worth as much as you thought it was.

I’ve posted before about the things that I valued most that my parents had left behind (read it here). So many of the things that we value ourselves don’t really have intrinsic value, the value is limited to us. We have experiences that suddenly attach more meaning and value to things than they had before. Our memories are triggered by “stuff” that sells cheap at yard sales. Chances are, there won’t be many people who will find that same value there, unless they’ve had similar experiences with that same stuff. The chances of that happening are pretty slim.

So, as I sat out in the rain, wondering whether or not anyone would think this stuff was actually worth something, one person came. Then another person came. Then another person came. Before I knew it, the value of these things dropped down (who ever comes to a yard sale and pays the asking price for something?) and our driveway was empty.

Well, it was almost empty. The ensuing weather coupled with our shortage of storage in the house and my need to get to another appointment later in the morning led me to throw everything that remained into the car and drive to Goodwill. As I handed the last box to the worker there, I breathed a sigh of relief. Whether I valued these things or not, they were just given away for free (well, I have a receipt that I can deduct from my taxes).

In the end, we made more money (which wasn’t much) at this yard sale than we have in a long time. The stuff is gone, and that’s what matters most, right? Here’s hoping that next time, when there’s a yard sale, that the weather is better and the stuff is just as valuable as it was this time around.

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