People like to measure the value their possessions have by what they would grab in case of a fire.
Question: What would you take if you had only one minute to leave your house in case of fire?
Question: What would you take if you had only five minutes to leave your house in case of fire?
Answer: dog, leash, dog cookies
Not surprisingly, this tough love prioritization changes dramatically when time measurement increases.
Question: What would you take if you had six weeks to leave your house in case of selling it and moving across country?
Answer: everything in the house I touch
Packing to move is somewhat of an oxymoron in that packing instills a sense of a movement only in the beginning. High value items ease into boxes and wrappings selected just for them. Large items like my mother’s cedar chest and the bed dominate the logistics of space and placement. Even the books, which when disturbed from their resting places on the shelf always seem to proliferate during the process of moving, tuck themselves neatly into boxes stacked unobtrusively in the corner. Each day a new milestone of packing is reached with ease. At this rate, your possessions feel like they will practically walk themselves out onto the truck in a spontaneous gesture of cooperative effort with you.
And then some silent and unseen measure is passed and the packing slows down.
Suddenly the value of your remaining possessions are less clear. You struggle to define their meaning and importance: utility (I need this), sentimentality (I love this), obligation (I don’t need or love this but feel I should pack it). Questions turn into discussions turn into debates. Decisions are delayed for more reflection and evaluation. Certain possessions awkwardly defy standard packing materials. Items are sorted and shuffled repeatedly, but organization and prioritization appear lost to you as your environment grows increasingly more chaotic. And each attempt to bring a sense of order contributes to an increasing sense of inertia as less and less is packed. You keep expecting your growing frustration to be a catalyst to simply discard that which clearly is not of critical importance, but there is some sticky residue of holding on that thwarts these efforts…every time you touch something.
It is insidious. You can look at that pile of stuff in the corner and in your mind think, “just give it away”. Then you pick something up and hold it and remember something about it…when it came in handy or even when you simply imagine it might be useful. And you move it from the “give away” pile to the “pack eventually” pile. And at the end of the day it is like a cruel joke to look at the piles you started with and realize how much you still have left to pack.
It is very hard to resist not simply setting it all on fire.
The Pareto principle states that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. When you are moving, 80% of the chaos/inertia will invariably come from only 20% of your possessions. And they won’t be the ones you like or need the most. In fact, they will most likely be things you are ambivalent about and might not have even seen in years. Things that can be purchased cheaply and replaced easily. Their charms do not appear evident, but do not be fooled of their power. Do not touch them. Leave them be until you are ready to move them into a donation bin. And then, do not think about them. Just move them out.
Otherwise, as the Borg say, resistance is futile.