Last weekend I came across two estate sales and decided to have a look around. Estate sales are much better than garage sales: at garage sales people are usually just getting rid of junk, things that are not very useful but at estate sales everything is for sale as the owner has passed away.
But for me, there is a eerie feeling entering the home and going through the belongings of someone who has died. Estate sales happen relatively quickly after a death and so I find my mind thinking of this person, who they were, why they collected certain things I’m now considering buying, if they had a good life and if they suffered a lot towards the end. I’m going through the material accumulation of their lives and I can learn a lot about them if I pay attention.
Seeing all of their belongings being snapped up, bought and dispersed among strangers makes me realize how little value material things actually have. Here, a person had spent a lifetime collecting trinkets only to have them sold at less than half price, bought by other trinket collectors who will horde them until they pass away and the trinket is sold yet again.
Estate sales make me realize that life experiences are what should be sought after and collected. I think that the soul of a dead person would look at the estate sale and exclaim ‘Why did I spend so much time collecting those worthless things? What a waste!’ If one believes in a soul, or some sort of continuance after this life than I would think experiences, moments that help the soul grow, are the only things that would continue on into the next life. Yet, the society we live in today tells us that we are ‘consumers,’ we are to consume/devour as many things as possible.
I hate that word ‘consume,’ it makes me think that humans are little more than parasites greedily sucking away at a never ending excess put in front of them until they become fat, sickly and lethargic. There is no shut off switch, the more people consume, the more they want, there is never enough.
I’m amazed at how the majority of those attending an estate sale give little to no reflection on the person whose belongings they are greedily buying. It shows that most people in today’s society are ‘consumers’ indeed, born and living to consume as much as possible. All they see is the actual item, not what the item meant to the person who owned it just a little while ago. When entering an estate sale I’d love to see a short movie on the life of the person who owned all this stuff, it would give everything so much more meaning. But no, it is time to sell everything, move on, time stops for no one and the belongings of the bereaved and of all these consumers, will too, soon be sold in an estate sale.
So why do I even enter these sales? Well, also like most people there are some incredible bargains and I like to buy certain things that have character, a history. I love old furniture that was made by hand and with care unlike the churned out factory items of today. I like looking for treasures, such as the Spanish doubloon that was picked out by a little girl at an estate sale on Pedro point. The appraisers had missed it and were obliged to sell it for the $10 advertised for the coins. That thing was worth $10,000! At that same estate sale I got a beautiful little desk that now resides in our guest room. At the estate sale last week I didn’t find a treasure but I did find a little treasure box for my son like the one I have kept my entire life.
My main objective is to find a large treasure box for my sons like the large steam trunk I have now worth around $300. I do not remember how it came into my possession but one day it was there, I asked my parents if I could have it and they said yes. In this steam trunk I put all the items I felt were worth saving throughout my life. Now, I have an incredible treasure chest of my own life! I still have the individual grade school classmate pictures, I still have the yearbooks, the programs for varsity sports, I still even have my very first blanket and stuffed animals. All because I had a treasure box and put things into that box.
So now, I’m actively seeking out estate sales as it is my mission to find two trunks, that is to say two treasure chests for my own boys as well as one more for me. My old steam trunk is packed to the gills and since I’m turning 40 in just over a month a second treasure chest is needed for the second part of my life. The contents of these boxes I expect my descendants to keep forever and never, ever sell at an estate sale. These are the most precious items of my life and in them contain little parts of my very being. If this were a Harry Potter movie those items would be my horcruxes.