Commentary
5:00 am
Fri June 11, 2010

Richard Crowson: Garage Sale Philosophy

Had a garage sale the other day. Swore I’d never have another one 2 sales ago. But stuff just kept piling up and something had to be done. So my wife, my daughter and I spent a long 90-degree June day saying over and over, “Yes, we’ll take 50 cents instead of 75 cents for that.”

A while back I got into a mood to let go of lots of those things that I’d been keeping around for sentimental reasons. So we went through boxes in the basement of old memorabilia and old souvenirs from long-forgotten events. We piled up some of the gifts we’d been given and never taken out of their boxes. And we went through books. The books were the hardest things to give up. Wonderful, meaningful books that I always meant to reread, or in some cases read for the first time.

We took it all and arranged it neatly on tables in the driveway, put up the signs and waited. Soon they came. Rummaging and pawing through our beloveds like Bolsheviks rampaging through Dr. Zhivago’s home. Or worse, glancing haughtily at a stack of my precious belongings and not even deigning to pick up an item for consideration.

I was in the middle of a thought like that when it occurred to me: Eckhart Tolle is right. Tolle is the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth. He often talks about how our egos seek to strengthen themselves with things like possessions, cars, houses, prestigious jobs. We think those things are who we are. We think the ego which, we therewith construct and show to all around us, is who we are.

It’s not easy to turn loose of the past. But maybe those customers had a lesson to teach me about what matters and what doesn’t. Maybe a garage sale is more useful than I thought.