Embracing the Chaos

I’ve never been one to shy away from a problem. In my world problems are like the Horn of Gondor, summoning solutions from far away. Creating solutions and systems is fun and energizing. A good solution to a difficult problem is one of life’s most beautiful gems.

I like problems, I cannot lie. Unless the problem is a garage sale.

Twenty years ago my husband and I swore off garage sales. Chasing the Russian with no English down the street in an attempt to retrieve the rocking chair he interpreted as free wasn’t worth the $200 we made that one dreadful Saturday long ago.

I haven’t forgotten the work and the futility of that day; apparently my husband has. We’ve been awkwardly adjusting to our new “Empty Nest” season of life. A couple weeks back he announces, “Let’s have a garage sale.” I chuckle in reply. “Yeah, let’s

…not.” But he was serious and somehow I relented and now it looks like my house projectile vomited in my garage.

The husband gets up and leaves everyday for work while I sit and mull over this pile of consumeristic puke. Why did we even buy this stuff? Why did we keep it so long? Who in the world would ever want it now?

It’s overwhelming; I am overwhelmed. My pride and worth are being buried alive under the pressure to have a successful garage sale. {What that heck is that anyway?}  All you “garage sale” people make it sound and look easy. “Oh, you just put it outside and price it as you go.” Oh really? That just sounds like chaos and confusion…and misery.

I post an announcement on Craigslist for the garage sale. Within minutes people email me to see if I will “send them pictures” so they can see if they want to come to said sale. Really? I tell them no and they get mad. I wonder how people I’ve never met can have such strong feelings about me. I don’t want or need more drama in my life. What happened to the good old days when garage sales were neighborly and simple?

I don’t have any solutions for bringing order to this mess. I just shuffle stuff around in my garage, dreading that Saturday is one day closer. I get tired and bake two dozen pumpkin muffins because they have a recipe and I can fall into mindlessness until I realize I baked too many to fit in the glass muffin jar and I’ve put all my tupperware in the garage to be sold. Who sells all their tupperware? I do, because while they still have their lids they should be owned by a family who can keep them together; we are not that family.

I’m realizing something about myself–I am missing domestic intuition. I bet half the people reading this are thinking, “What’s the big deal about a garage sale?” Well, to me it is because I know I am going to suck at it. There is probably an Idiot’s Guide to Garage Sales out there, but I already put like four copies of other Idiot’s Guides out for sale. The books aren’t helping the idiot in me.

Guess what? I don’t care that my garage sale is going to bring family shame and embarrassment. This is new for me–I always care about doing things right and orderly; I want to look good. My most common prayer is “Dear Lord, please don’t let me play the fool.”

I confess, in a moment of weakness I went on Pinterest to read about garage sales and found some cute signage. What the what?  No. I will not waste printer ink on a junk sale and I’m okay with people walking away from my sale feeling disappointed. They’ll get over it…just like I am getting over my perfectionism.

I can’t believe I’ve wasted good anxiety on this. Phhfff. Life can have a problem and it is not my responsibility to find its solution. I shall fling myself into this problem and relish its chaos as ‘mystery,’ and ‘spontaneity,’ and the enjoyment of an unscripted life. I shall live in the moment, knowing that I am so much more than my horrible garage sale abilities.

So there we have it. I’m growing and learning.  The test day is Saturday and I plan to go to bed that night with a certain measure of proud satisfaction in having proved that I am the World’s Worst Garage Sale Organizer. Woo-hoo!  And I’m selling three rocking chairs so this should be fun.

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