“What are you hanging on to entirely too long, and Why?” A thought-provoking Facebook friend, Rebecca, asked us all this week. “I’ve had it with all this stuff. I’m going minimalist. Empty cupboards is my new vision”, another friend, Joy, tells me as she unpacks her storage after living for a year out of suitcases. At our house, we returned from a 3+ week trip, living a simpler life out of a single suitcase, inspired to cull out closets, old files, clothes, etc. etc.
It’s a theme this week. Makes you think about What you keep and Why. We have so much stuff, that it took two containers to move us on our last corporate relocation. Embarrassing, really. Contrast all that stuff with the happy single suitcase existence of our road trip last month. Where is the disconnect? Lack of know-how, or incentive is not the problem here. I’m an organizer extraordinaire and always delight at the lightness of an existence out of a suitcase. There is something much deeper underlying the attachment to all this stuff.
If I break it down logically, it seems that there are two main categories of stuff. It’s simple. There’s the stuff you use (let’s say at least once a year, so you can include your Christmas decorations) and the stuff you don’t use. A wild guess tells me that this might divide the pile into approximate equals halves. Each half elicits a different response:
The stuff I use is mostly functional, replaceable, non-emotional. Couch, pots & pans, tables & chairs, computers & printers, etc. I’m very rational and clinical in dealing with this half. This is the stuff I should keep and of course do keep, but from which I could actually easily separate myself.
The stuff I don’t use is the sticky stuff of life. Grandma’s college poetry book, baby christening gowns, old letters & cards, past calendars, mother’s cookbooks, my first Beatles album, etc. I’m decidedly irrational and inconsistent in dealing with this half. This is the stuff I theoretically could get rid of, but never do. It feels like some part of me would be lost forever, even though nobody will want to keep most of these things after I’m gone.
Moving forward, I tip toe back an,d forth between the rational and irrational fields of operation, making faster and slower progress as I switch lanes. The key thing is not to stop working the problem. Continuously chip away at it. Ask tough questions about Why. Best case you might be able to loosen the grip on some old items, or even pass them on down the family tree, and worse case you put them aside to be revisited another day.
I have a vision of a lighter load unleashing new energy and creativity! Loosen the grip of the old to make way for the new.
“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.”
Henry David Thoreau