The Trouble with Blivets

Tom Brezsny
- Tom Brezsny

The Trouble with Blivets

I love it! Whenever I write a column about “stuff”, readers write back to share their own stories. Like this:

We’re guilty as charged….. 24 years living here and 24 years of accumulating stuff we don’t need. There’s a military term called “blivet” which means cramming 10 gallons of crap into a 5 gallon bucket. That describes our single car garage perfectly. Thanks Tom. We’ll invite you to the garage sale we’ve been planning for 10+ years but haven’t had yet.

Blivet! Who knew? Guess everyone has their own personal blivets to wrestle with. All of us dealing with downsizing issues can relate. Plenty of folks are caught in the throes right now. Tap dancing on the cusp between the middle and the last third of their lives.

Downsizing is a euphemism for all those discussions taking place about stuff. Especially the ones that involve cramming a 3,600 sq ft lifestyle into a neat little 1,800 sq ft package of happiness and organizational bliss. Downsizing is also the blanket term for discussions about capital gains, property tax transfers, trust/legacy issues and strategies that will help stretch those nest eggs.

Downsizing also references the less- tangible conversations people are having about: walkability, living closer to family, maintaining access to adequate medical care and doing less driving. There’s plenty to juggle. But how many balls can the average human keep in the air at the same time?

Different people employ different strategies. Some choose to yank the band-aid of change off quickly, knowing it will only hurt for a short time. Others bury their heads in the sand hoping it will all magically go away. Others develop perennial cases of analysis paralysis and confuse talking about change with actually doing something.

Still others opt to kick the can down the road. They consciously defer making any decisions. They figure fate will step in and make their choice for them at some future point in time. Sometimes it’s just easier to stay put and wait until someone breaks a hip.

What isn’t negotiable is the inevitability of change. It is way more certain than those taxes people are worried about. And just a prelude to the last, most certain change that awaits us all. Some believe security in old age is best achieved by paying off the mortgage, digging in for the long haul in a small bubble of home where nothing unexpected can ever happen.

I disagree. I think it comes from acknowledging that life will change in ways we can’t anticipate. The best we can do is proactively choose our changes while we have the resources and the energy to implement them. Changes that offer more flexible options when the unpredictable does arrive. 

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