Recently I’ve been on a journey to own less. On purpose. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s actually been fun and I’m getting pretty addicted to the feeling of satisfaction that comes when I give my stuff away.
I had a modest home but, like most Americans, still had way more than I needed. Who would settle for one couch when you can have two? And yes, of course I need to keep an extra coffee maker, toaster, blender…etc…in the basement, just in case. Sure, I have four sets of dishes, you never know when suddenly 25 people might stop by for dinner. I know I haven’t had those picture frames up in years, but why get rid of them when they’re just sitting in boxes not bothering anyone? Besides, someday I might want to hang them again. Right.
I’ll be honest at first it felt a little strange, the absence of all of my “duplicates”. But after the emotions of getting rid of stuff started to wane, it began to feel, I don’t know…a little cleaner, a lot more tidy, and there was this new sense of freedom. And I liked it.
So I decided to clean my room. Yes, I realize that I’m an adult. My room wasn’t messy but it was cluttered. Especially my dresser which had become a catch all for school papers, mail, things that needed to be filed or taken to the basement. I had bottles of lotion and body spray that I’d been given over the years that I never used but felt bad getting rid of. Cords for phones that we no longer had, clothes that needed to be sewn, toys that needed to be fixed. So I started by cleaning off my dresser. I am laughing right now, because I couldn’t even get rid of stuff at that point…I put it all in a big bag and left it next to my dresser. For months (yes, months!) it sat there. Untouched and not missed. I stared it often when I went to bed and would give myself little pep talks, committing nightly to getting rid of it the next day. But in the daylight, I could see it all clearly and I just knew that the minute I tossed it I was going to realize how much I needed it. And then the night would come and, well you get the idea.
And then I came across a blog called Becoming Minimalist where I saw this:
Wow. That’s simple. And so wise.
I knew that this bag that had been taunting me was not useful because I hadn’t used anything in it for months. And it certainly wasn’t beautiful all heaped with miscellaneous junk. So I took that bag and walked it to the garage and tossed it in the trash can and I am not kidding, when I walked back in to my bedroom and didn’t see that stupid bag sitting there, it was such a relief that I let out a huge sigh and thought to myself “ok, what’s next?”
And so began my journey. I began to survey the rooms in my house asking myself “Is it useful? Is it beautiful?” and if the answer was no, it had to go. I was bagging stuff up left and right and dropping off at thrift stores nearly every day. I cleared out drawers and cupboards and even (gasp) bookshelves. My house began to feel lighter, more airy, less cluttered up with junk. And when I looked around, I only saw things that made me happy.
Right now, as I look around me I see pictures of Africa, a few of my favorite books and two sweet little bamboo elephants with their trunks intertwined. All things that make my heart happy and bring a smile to my face. I don’t see the stacks and stacks of books I’ve read that I will never read again, or the multiple candle holders that I acquired over the years, or the knickknacks that I never really liked but felt obligated to keep out because they were gifts. For so many years, those kinds of things took up space in my home and in my life and kept me from enjoying the things that I really do find beautiful.
We live in a crazy society where more is better and everyone wants more, more, more. I’m done with that. I only want to want what I need. I’ll probably never be a full-out, hard core minimalist, but I’m finding that the less I have to have for myself, the more I have to give others. And I like that.