Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Isn't a Garage Sale

It was fairly early, and certainly bright and warm, when I encountered them on my driveway. They had begun going through several boxes of items I had placed there, looking like they were out for a morning walk with their strollers in front of them. They each had something in their hands when I turned the corner of my house and said "Good morning! This isn't a garage sale!". They looked at each other in confusion, and then looked at me. All these items on my driveway, lining the sides in an obviously garage-sale way? Not a garage sale? That's when I said "This is a freecycle. Everything is free."

You see, I am downsizing for a move into a smaller home. While I have been going through that process I have found many items that I no longer want or can no longer use, or items the IJB has outgrown in either size or interest. But these items were not really trash - they were just not things I need. I had recently found a Facebook page called "Too Good to Dump", and it is a great place, but there were so many items and I haven't the time (or patience) to take photos of each one. And that's when it came to me. Why not hold a garage un-sale? Why not just give these items away to those who can use them?

I have been to many garage sales, and worked a few that my parents held. I found them horrible affairs, long days which usually garnered enough actual cash to go for lunch. I didn't see the point, and honestly while money has value so does the joy that comes with giving things away.

I was incredibly pleased to watch my driveway gradually clear of items. Every single item gone was another item not destined for the dump. Every single item claimed was one more item that wouldn't take decades to rot in a landfill. And whenever I came out to chat with people (although I did that rarely, preferring to stay indoors and simply watch the scene unfold) I was on the receiving end of a lot of gratitude, which I think is undeserved. I am the one who is grateful, because every person who was part of my freecycle day was doing something to help preserve our world. They were saving items from the dump, too. And they were saving me the work of taking it there.

There is something beautiful in all of this. One of those early morning visitors, when told that everything was free, said "Wow, that's just not something you see every day." And perhaps that is true, but I have been on the receiving end of so many acts of kindness in this community. I have had so many opportunities given to me, so many possibilities, and I have been the recipient of so many wonderful stories, which may not be material possessions but which to me are perhaps more precious. And so just as I have had others freely give to me - their time, their thoughts, their ideas, their stories - I gave to others things like clothing and toys.

I loved my Freecycle Garage Un-Sale. In fact should I ever have large numbers of items to ever give away I will do it again, although downsizing has also taught me that I should also think about keeping my material possessions in check. I would never suggest that anyone else should do this instead of a garage sale - but for me the pure pleasure in seeing other people take the things I can no longer use and give them purpose? That is worth far more than cash. I hope my freecycling made a few people happy yesterday. I know it made me happy, and it saved a whole of stuff from the dump. And frankly I cannot think of a better way to spend a bright and sunny day than basking in the summer sunshine and the glow of seeing others smile.

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