Thursday, February 23, 2012

The dark storage unit

Sunset at my storage unit, I edited it in an HDR style to keep sky exposure and foreground exposure correct
In previous posts I have mentioned a storage unit where I had dumped everything from my apartment that was unable to fit in the van. I finally got around to taking some photos of it although, I wish I had some shot of it when I first moved my stuff into it. If you ever want to use a storage unit as an extra room/closet, do it the way I did with hanging clothes rack, ironing board (iron plugs into the light socked above) and stacked storage in the back. Very functional this way and easy enough to access most items, high use items or items to get rid of are at the front. All clothing is visible and wrinkle free.

Vacuum and ironing board on left, golf clubs and mattress on right. Clothes above and crap in the back.

DVDs, Katadyn RO Watermaker, Auto parts below the shelf.
Why did I have to get a storage unit? Well, it is a complicated answer but the main reason was because I did not know if I would be able to survive van-dwelling, if I was a gambler it was my way of hedging my bet. I also was blissfully unaware of how much stuff I really had in my apartment. There were some items that I knew I was going to get rid of via craigslist which meant that I would have had to wait for a buyer or donate these items and the rest I deemed worthy of keeping. The only problem was that not everything could fit into the van.

Initially I accepted having the storage unit, it was crammed with all my stuff and I felt like I had done the right thing as part of my new lifestyle experiment. I justified having it because of the value of the stuff I put in it and the "low" monthly cost. Eventually my acceptance turned into apathy, or bliss, and it was just another part of my daily life. I would visit it several times a week to exchange items like work shirts, pants, shoes, dvds, etc... I did what I thought I needed to do and posted the "unnecessary" items for sale, slowly each thing sold. Some stuff I just gave away or donated but, in the end, I still had a storage unit with lots of stuff.

Eventually every item developed a blind spot in my mind as I quickly rationalized why I needed what was inside. In doing so I felt like I had somehow failed myself. I knew that some things were going to back to CO and others were to be sold but because I had mentally eliminated it, I could ignore it. Ignorance isn't bliss. Every week I would read blogs by minimalist travelers who have less then 100 personal items and wonder if it was even possible for me to do the same. The idea of paring down to that level seemed like an impossibility when I was having a hard time getting rid of my useful but unnecessary cleaning supplies.

So what was I supposed to do about my storage unit stuff?
The answer isn't clear but it has something to do with how replaceable an item is; meaning that I could get it anywhere for a reasonable price vs the mental/physical costs of storing it. Each item needed to be looked at with this line of questioning.

example: I had a box of fluids for the van that came with it and some I had purchased, they sat below the ironing board till I started to accept the idea that I can replace all of them for less then $30. I also realized that I was keeping some of the inherited fluids just because they were useful but after further inspection did I find out how old they were. Never use old fluids, they absorb water and chemically degrade. I was overlooking this detail because I had, initially, mentally justified keeping them based on their perceived usefulness when in fact they were useless.

Every item gets scrutinized. From the item's point of view it would be as if the Eye of Sauron was looking upon it and deciding it's fate. Sometimes I look at something and initially dismiss it however, I have recognized this as a way for my mind to avoid a difficult decision. Other items need to sit in my mind and torture me till I come up with an answer. Even if I decide to get rid of something, I still put it in the van and drive around with it for a while till my patience runs out with the lack of space and I am forced to get rid of it.

I've made a new goal that every time I go into the storage unit I have to take something out. Give away, donate or throw away.

1 comment:

  1. That’s a lot of stuff you got there! A storage facility is really great for people who have a lot of stuff that cannot be managed or stored inside the house. Though one can put everything inside your storage unit, you can still save space make it look organized by decluttering. Some tips: Have an inventory of all the stuff you have in the unit and determine what should stay and what should be thrown away or to be given away. You can also use unit and containers for small belongings. Containers will not only create extra spaces but also protect your things from dust, pets and rodents.