I Marie Kondoed a Whole Building

by James Wallace Harris, 5/27/21

Well, to be honest, I didn’t hold everything that was in our old workshop and ask if it sparked joy, or even sort the building components into separate piles for reallocation considerations. I just asked the contractor if he could demolish the entire building and take it and its contents away. And they did.

But what a relief! What a weight off my shoulders! After Susan’s parents died she wanted to buy the house she grew up in, and I reluctantly agreed. Well, it made her happy. I did think it was neat the house came with a workshop full of woodworking tools and a small greenhouse. I imagined building and growing things. The house also came fully furnished with every closet stuffed with marvelous treasures her mother found at yard sales. Her dad hadn’t used the workshop in years and it had become their mini-storage unit. That was a dozen years ago and we’re almost through getting rid of their junk – and ours.

About seven years ago I decided neither Susan or I would ever do any woodworking or gardening and hired 1-800-Got-Junk to remove the now broken down greenhouse and clear out the workshop of ancient rusting woodworking machines and boxes of once cherished possessions. It took three of their trucks and a big check. But it felt great. My soul felt immensely lighter.

Then we started using the workshop for our overflow junk. A few years later I had the walls of the workshop replaced and painted because I feared our junk would go bad from neglect. That was even more money. Then this year I realized the roof was leaking and contracted to have it replaced. I also worried about the workshop all the time because a neighbor’s tree is dying, and it leans over both the power lines and our workshop. What a psychic burden.

I knew the plywood decking of the roof would need replacing along with the shingles, but when they started on the first sheet, the roofer called me out to show how the 2×6 rafters were so rotten they couldn’t nail the plywood to them. They offered to replace or brace the 2×6 beams, at even more expensive.

That’s when I knew there was no chance of that building ever bringing me joy. By the way, joy was defined as possible home resale value. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that we’ll probably die in this house and resale joy was a fading fantasy anyway. So I asked the roofer if they also demoed buildings and he said yes. I said, “Let me save a couple of things, and then I want you to take the building and everything in it away.” I kept two ladders, a push broom, a rake, a shovel, a pair of hedge clippers, and a couple cans of old house paint. (I’ll probably get rid of them too.) I told the roofer workers they could have anything they wanted. Susan told a neighbor.

Even though the value of our house went down, I felt wonderful seeing the finished job. Not only did I get rid of tons of possessions and responsibilities, but I no longer have a place to put all our extra crap. That’s quite freeing. And now I don’t have to worry about my neighbor’s tree falling on the workshop. Oh, it will take out the power lines and probably pull down a couple power poles, but I’m trying hard not worry about that.

Susan saved one four-foot long wooden level of her dad’s. She figured her brother might want it for sentimental reasons, and I overheard her talking to Johnny telling him she’d try and keep me from throwing it away. I’ll try hard, but Johnny better come soon. I’m already looking for more things in the house to throw away. I’m making Susan nervous eyeing the attic. Boxes have been going up there for a dozen years, but they never come down. Why?

I fantasize about a completely empty attic. Wouldn’t it feel so good?

JWH

8 thoughts on “I Marie Kondoed a Whole Building”

  1. James,

    As with many of your musings, I can relate to this article!

    My father-in-law passed last year and he had a big barn. The barn was completely stocked with woodworking and mechanics tools. I am a woodworker and a mechanic. I already had all of the tools in the barn. For sentimental reasons, we decided to bring a bunch of stuff home. Now I have two of each of the tools I decided to bring home!

    Now I can’t move around in my own shop! Now I can’t build anything. Even if I couldn’t it would not be worth doing because I already have too much stuff!

    Having too much stuff is a curse. The curse impacts me and my wife each day, but it also will impact our kids in the future.

    Although my wife and I are just a few years behind you in age, we are already on the path to Purgeville. It is liberating. I am about to start the “summer of the purge”. Antiques, tools, furniture, books, magazines, and every other unneeded thing will be flying out of my house. I already did this once when we tried to move to Texas a few years ago (https://datablends.us/exiting-my-comfort-zone/). It is time for round two!

    Thanks for the inspiration,

    Ken

    1. When we first got the workshop I thought I might use it. I took shop in 8th and 9th grades and remembered how I liked to make things. But the workshop was too full of junk, and it lacked air conditioning and heating, so it wasn’t particularly pleasant to use. Having a pleasant space to work, and a clean work area is conducive to working on a project. Maybe you can get your workshop back to normal where you can work again.

  2. Well done! I constantly ask myself the question: why am I keeping this? Daily I’m throwing out STUFF. I swear the Stuff breeds quietly in dark corners and cuplboards!

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