Sunday, January 01, 2012

Pack rats and ditchers: In search of common ground

A blog reader asked me if I had any advice for finding common ground between pack rat and ditcher, given that is exactly what is being attempted in our house at this moment as we fold the place up.
I'm the ditcher, the one who has no problem getting rid of things. Keep that in mind when reading this, because I fully acknowledge it's from a ditcher's perspective.
And let's presume I'm giving this advice for a pack rat-ditcher couple in which the pack rat does want the end result, even though it's going to be painful getting there.
I've got nothing against pack rats as as general rule, but if you want to fold up your house in order to be able to travel the world freely, then it's pretty clear that a ditcher ethos simply has to prevail. So a motivated pack rat is essential. I have no idea how you'd convince a pack rat to part with their stuff if they'd yet to buy into the concept.
OK, advice.
First, the ditcher has to recognize that it's going to be a struggle all the way, and that they need to prepare themselves mentally for the challenge ahead. If Paul and I had been a new couple going through this process of giving stuff up, I think we might have broken up by now.
But I've known Paul for long enough that I was really aware of how tough this was going to be for him. I knew I'd have to be very, very mellow and non-pushy - not my natural state - through this process.
Step two: Recognize that the ditcher does most of the work of the downsizing.  Maybe that's unfair, but it's just the way it is. If you want something more than the other person, you will have to be the one who makes the most effort.
Step three: Give your pack rat some options. There are a lot of different choices available when you're getting rid of stuff, and pack rats seem to feel better about giving away their things if they're not just going to get dumped, but are going on to new lives with family, acquaintances or people in need.
And finally, check your own expectations. Sometimes I catch myself getting heated up over an item too inconsequential to make a whit of difference in terms of the storage space it'll take up. Ditcher, don't sweat the small stuff.
Good luck. With two weeks to go in our household, we are on track to fit the stuff of our lives into a 6x8 storage locker. But I'd be lying if I said it has been easy.

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