The Transient Value of Things

I am still always shocked at how short lived the value of most things are.

As I am working to simplify my life, I am coming across a lot of things that no longer serve me. Although I don’t necessarily have a use for them anymore, I think that someone else may find value in them. Heck, I spent a lot of money on this stuff — won’t someone be super stoked to find it at such a great price in a secondhand shop somewhere?

But as I am letting go of things that I no longer want, I’m finding that nobody else really wants them either. And I’m actually a little hurt by it. I’m having trouble getting rid of stuff that I, or someone close to me, spent a lot of money on.

I have an old printer, digital camera, and smart phone in my house that have all been replaced by newer versions. Sure the printer is not wireless, the zoom button on the camera is a little wiggly, and the phone doesn’t answer your questions via a sweet voiced “intelligent assistant”, but they all still perform their functions perfectly well. Why, then, when I called a pawn shop to see if they would take them (and, if so, how much I could get for them), they didn’t want any of it?

Perhaps it’s my ego. After all, this stuff apparently wasn’t good enough for me to keep and use anymore. Am I so self-absorbed that I think others will still want to pay money for these old things just because I once paid good money for them? For some reason, perhaps since I held on to and cared for these things for this long, I feel like I still deserve some of that money back.

What it comes down to is, I’m having trouble grasping the value I have already taken from the objects. These things that were new and expensive five years ago, are now used and five years old. In my head, I only remember the newness. I still see the dollars dropped on them, how useful they are, and the fact that they still work. I don’t want to see them go to waste in a dump.

And yet, I don’t want to keep double of all these things around either. If I wanted to get the most use out of these things, I shouldn’t have consumed new ones before the old were totally spent. Being conscious and minimal takes a lot of effort, starting even before an item is purchased. If I’m not totally sure if I’m going to get the maximum use out of something, I must consider if I need it at all. And if I buy it and don’t get to use it to the max, I need to be prepared to take on the responsibility for the loss — financially, environmentally, mentally, and emotionally.

Perhaps my inability to grasp the unseeable realm of “actual use” as value from things is due to the fact that advertisers and marketers work incredibly hard to get me to only see the value of things for their shiny newness and potential use. It’s easy to forget what I’ve already done with something while thinking of all the things I could do with something else. Once something is owned, it loses its luster because there is always something else newer and shinier out there. Perhaps that’s why no one else wants to buy my things secondhand either. They’ve been exposed to the same consumerist conditioning that I have.

Since I can’t seem to sell them, I am going to donate these things. Perhaps through a charity service (instead of a pawn shop), these still-useful items will end up in the hands of people who can use them. In the meantime, I need to work on separating myself from focusing on the very ephemeral monetary value of things (especially electronics), and instead focus on the value I get out of items personally, like the convenience I experience, the fun I have, and memories I create while using them.

Things come and things go. Money comes and money goes. Remember, life itself is transient. It’s not worth it to hold on to things that are no longer of value. Just thank them for how they have already served, and then let them go.


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