Leaving your old life behind.

We have all heard about the crackpots who give up all their worldly possessions to live a simpler life high on a mountain. Kind of like those people moving from a big house into one of those tiny homes you see on TV. Moving to Hawaii is kind of like that in a way. You have a choice to drag your current world to Hawaii, or leave it all (or most of it) behind. The choice can be financial or psychological, or both.  My process has changed many times in the few months I have been living in Maui.

I have always been a collector and a pack rat. I have moved numerous times, and always dragged my stuff with me, the moving truck getting larger with each move. Having kids compounded the issue, now with bikes, toys, skateboards, not to mention the memory stuff you will never part with. And every time, I started with your basic garage sale to skim off the junk that no one every really wants, getting a quarter for stuff at a rummage sale, it all seems to go. The rest you load up and haul to Goodwill.

I did that a couple of months before I actually got on the plane to Maui. Had my big garage sale, with my kids help, and got rid of the stuff that didn’t matter. A three car garage full of junk, and when it was all gone and the garage nice and clean, it didn’t look like I got rid of anything when I went back in the house. Didn’t matter at that point, because I hadn’t decided to completely pull the plug on my house yet. I set up some security cameras to watch on my phone, turned the heat down to 42 (remember this is Minnesota in the winter), shut the water off, and parked my car safe in the garage.

In Maui, I have been living in a furnished VRBO (vacation rental by owner). The only thing I brought with me from home was my clothes and toothbrush. Everything else is just sitting there like a wife waiting for you to come home from the bar. It has really been difficult and enlightening at the same time to not have everything you cherish with you. The only comfort has been knowing I still own it. But I have made some decisions, and I just might be turning into one of those crackpots.

House:  I was one of those people who bought my house right a the peak of inflated prices. Now I am able to get out with a small (and I mean small) profit. Here is the emotional part. It’s a way bigger house than I need, but it’s hard to part with all that room. And my kids grew up there, the only home they have known. That probably doesn’t mean as much as it used to. But moving away and having time to really think about parting with it, I feel it would be good emotionally to move on. I look at that house now like a memory museum. Not all of them were good either. It will sell quickly no doubt. That brings me to my next big item, my car.

Car:  This is the easiest decision for me to make. Being in the car business for 28 years, I am not attached to cars at all. I really don’t care what I drive. as long as it’s safe and reliable. The car back in Minnesota is going up for sale. I, like a lot of people, just replaced a bunch of stuff. Timing belt, tires, battery. But after viewing the market here on used cars, I really can replace it in Maui for about what I can get for it back home, and the two grand it would cost to get it here. Then I don’t have to rent a car while I wait, and hassle with the titling. Might even be fun getting something different.

Household stuff:  These are things you don’t really have an emotional attachment to, like TV’s, appliances, cookware, linens, exercise equipment, and stuff like that. Need to have, or like to have stuff. The TV has been an interesting transformation for me. Back in Minnesota, I have not one, but two 55 inch flat screen TV’s. I spent a lot of time with the TV on, and really enjoyed my shows on the many cable channels. Here the cottage came with one TV, a 37 inch Gypo Box hooked up to an antennae with 7 channels that don’t always come in. And internet that shuts down when it is being used by more than 2 people at the same time. Needless to say, I have missed my TV’s, but to tell you the truth, it has been enlightening to not have them. I rarely turn on the TV, except to watch Survivor now. That means very little news too. I have become aware of all the extra time I have for reading, writing, beach walks, and anything else I would like to do. The TV’s had me locked in, and I had to go through a sort of withdrawal process to realize I don’t need more than one, and don’t need cable, and it can be fairly small. I am not shipping them.

The rest of the stuff is simply a matter of cost. Is it cheaper to ship, or replace. The average cost to ship here is about $3 a pound. That is going to vary somewhat by where you live, but I lived in the middle of the country, so a good average cost. So let’s think about a few examples:

Keurig coffee maker-  13 pounds-  cost to ship  $39.

Pots and pans –  35 pounds-  cost to ship  $105

Bedroom set- 600 pounds- cost to ship $1800

Sheets and towels- fairly light, good for wrapping around stuff when you ship- do you really want to ship that stuff?

You get the idea. A thousand pounds of stuff is going to cost you about $3000 to ship. And a thousand pounds of household stuff is not that much. I decided I am going to replace my stuff here.

Memories:  This is where the going gets tough. Both my parents are gone, but I still have all the little things to remember them by. Presents, pictures, items I saved from childhood, books, etc. Stuff from old girlfriends, my sisters, now gone pets, friends, things I collected, stuff the kids made, projects to be started. I have rooms full of the stuff. My first and a thousand subsequent impressions was to keep and ship it all. Then I decided to rent a storage unit and put off making a decision about them. My separation from my memories the last few months has freed me to part with most of it. I have been living in the past, and reminded of it every time I was in my house. I have great memories, but what I have discovered is that for me to be happy and healthy, I need to live in the moment. The past is history, as they say. I am now ready to leave it behind.

Once you make the decision, it’s like a great burden suddenly being lifted. But now you have to decide what to do with it. If you want to entirely be done with it, don’t give it to a family member. You will be reminded of it every time you visit, so you still won’t entirely cut the cord with the past. I am going to sell what might have value, throw away what is really not worth anything, and donate everything else. Of course I am going to keep my most precious of things. Not the stuff you have to take out of the rummage sale when you know the person who gave it to you is coming over. The things that changed your life, made you feel good, things that made you who you are. If I have to spend some money to get it here, it will be money well spent.

I am starting a new chapter in my life. I was lucky to not have the option of loading everything I own into a truck and move it somewhere else. I am ready to be the crackpot giving up all my worldly possessions (well, not all). And come to think of it, I do live high on a mountain.




2 Replies to “Leaving your old life behind.”

  1. Hi Burl, You are amazing…that is hard stuff to do. Nikki is right you will be more free.
    Get that book published… I can’t wait!

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