Try to hold in your mind the quantity of "stuff" you own. I'm talking about everything -- kitchen stuff, bedroom stuff, garage stuff, attic stuff, stuff that holds or contains other stuff. Imagine the size of the storage unit that could contain all your stuff.
OK. I think you're wrong. I think you've got three times more stuff than you think.
I based this estimate based on my own experience with actually putting all my stuff into storage.
The picture here show one of two storage units that contain all our possessions, except for the stuff we're carrying with us in our backpacks.
I would never have fit everything into these two units. My son, Kevin, is really good at packing things like this, and managed to do it somehow.
It took us several days of packing and moving and all that while I'm thinking the same thing I think every time we do this: Where did all this stuff come from and why do we have it?
When you mentally inventory your possessions, you think of the big things: furniture, books, clothes, linen supplies, tools, kitchen appliances, dishes, glasses, utensils.
But when you actually try to move everything, you find yourself confronting a blizzard of random, uncategorizable items that are less than valuable and more than garbage: Weird office supplies of dubious utility, random paperwork, strange backpacks and containers and the detritus of countless interrupted hobbies, seasonal sports and failed projects.
You realize how much money you spend on content. If you have 150 books you don't want to keep, and if these were purchased at an average price of $24.95, you realize that you've spent $3,700 on them and now you can't sell the lot for more than a couple hundred bucks. It's a small price to pay for knowledge, but still. It makes me appreciate libraries.
When we did this a few years ago, I literally threw away hundreds of CDs, which I probably spent an average of $15 dollars each on.
When we try to downsize or go nomadic, we start by trying to get organized, and sell, give away or throw away the stuff we don't love. But as the deadline draws near, our processing becomes more slapdash and harried, and by the end we're just shoveling stuff into boxes to be dealt with during some unspecified move in the future.
The process of moving into storage units clarifies that there are three categories of stuff: 1) the stuff you need, which you pack into backpacks and take with you; 2) the stuff you love; and 3) the stuff you neither need nor love.
That third category constitutes the bulk of possessions. And it's so easy to get rid of in theory, but so hard in practice.