Come To My House and Take Everything I Own for Free

February 27, 2018

“Come to my house an take everything I own for free.” That was the title of the craigslist ad I left this morning at 7:30am. I wanted to post the ad early in case nobody showed up and I was required to spend the day hauling a bunch of crap IKEA furniture down the stairs by myself to be left surreptitiously on the sidewalk.

My fears turned out to be naive and terribly, terribly unfounded. Within about twenty minutes, I was getting three phone-calls a minute, and twice as many texts. Fifteen minutes later the first people began to arrive. The high-ticket items were claimed first as expected, but that didn’t stop the droves of unrelenting humans stampeding to claim my former possessions as their own.

Within two and a half hours, everything was gone. The furnishings which had made up my life for the last few years had been taken away. In total, I’d say about 50 people physically showed up, 78 people texted me, and 61 other people called. I suspect experiences like these are where the phrase “phone ringing off the hook” come from. An hour later, all of the furniture had been deconstructed and carted off.

It took me about six weeks of constant effort to build all of that stuff. Is there any force in the universe more powerful than raw, unadulterated human motivation?

However, as I watched them brave the broken elevators and the subsequent eight flights of stairs, desperate for whatever they could get their hands on, I couldn’t help but feel bad for the disservice I was doing these people. There was a reason I was getting rid of this stuff. Possessions make you cautious. This ownership enforces the status-quo, and it makes you feel like you have something to lose.

I felt bad because these people were (almost literally) breaking their backs in order to unchain me from my burdens; I can’t help but think they might have been unwittingly shackling themselves while doing so. But they’re adults, presumably know what they’re doing, and at the end of the day, I’m not one to judge. These people did me a favor, and I’m grateful to them for that.

Getting rid of my possessions was the first real step towards my year of perpetual motion, and tomorrow I set sail for new horizons and adventures. With today marking my final day in the United States, I can’t think of a more symbolically compelling way to go out: unchained and reborn. It’s a fitting close for the end of an era.

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