Downsize, dump, declutter – Making space for a new life.

pileoboxesWith so many places to turn to for advice on reducing the “stuff” it is some what confusing and overwhelming to which the lengths people will go to minimise their lives and the advice they expound around the ways one can achieve this minimal nirvana. I have been spending some considerable time looking around at all the different strands of this meme and in typical me fashion like to pick and choose the bits I want to take from them and amalgamate into my own hybrid system. I guess you would say I have minimal tendencies but I don’t necessarily buy into it wholeheartedly. For me, a typical Taurean, home and comfort are an important part of life and I feel comfiest when surrounded by familiar and sentimental things. But on this new adventure I am throwing out the norms and accepted ways of living to look at an alternative, one with fewer possessions and fewer responsibilities.

It is hard to throw things away unless you are naturally un-possesive. We all collect throughout our lives, from the collections of toys as a child to those of bicycles, books, games, clothing or whatever it is that fills our heads. But there comes a point when you realise that you are never going to complete that one last thing and it as at that point we switch our collecting tendencies to some other focus or collection. It is human nature it would seem to hoard things much like in the animal kingdom. However animals hiding there prizes away is usually for the very practical purpose for feeding them selves through a time of famine. Collecting computer junk in my case has no benefit to me at any time. Although I do probably have enough kettle leads to boil twenty eight kettles in case I needed an emergency cup of tea. I always looked at people who had little and thought how empty their lives must be, but this was purely the product of an upbringing of not throwing things away out of practically or from a view of it’s artistic value and being at the beginning of the consumer boom where credit was easy. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t believe or plan to live in a whitened room with one chair in the middle and northing else, far from it. I have naturally been attracted to bright colours and will choose bright over muted or dark any day of the week. I am getting back round to the point I am trying to make but felt it is important to emphasise that minimal doesn’t have to be grey, bland, monotone or consist of nothingness at all. It is far more about quality over quantity and by that I mean not just the actual quantity but more so about the whole force guiding life. It’s not about nothing, it’s more about something. Something you get value from, something that gives you joy or something that is purely functional. Ultimately “we” are the judges of that and it is all to easy to say that everything we own is valuable in some way, but when we question the need for a possession we can calculate its’ value. In front of me sits eight memory sticks, do I really need all of them. No, four would easily be enough however the feeling of comfort of these things give continues the desire to have them. This is just one example of a repeating scenarios set out in front of and around me.

Near to me sits a pile of boxes that is the result of a number of different culls in recent times however this is not the end, in fact it is really just the beginning. I thought I had reached the point at which I had all the things that were important to me and that I couldn’t really do without. Having moved twice since the experiment was first started I could see that I don’t actually need many things that once I held dear. Paring down the possessions is a somewhat traumatic task as although the downsizing gurus seem to portray it as a painless task I have to say that for me getting rid of things that in some cases I had held on to for decades were not easy decisions, but the more times I did it the easier it got. Once I had decided on the three pile rule; 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, it made it easier to abandon the things that were no longer giving any value, joy or what ever term we want to insert here. The notion that if you haven’t used it in a year it is of no use to you is a good one in my mind. One month is more questionable but then as you start honing your disposal skills you find that it is much more effortless to jettison stuff. Even the one week rule becomes an investigation of the real use and purpose of that item. I look at a mug full of pencils, pens, eraser etc and think I have used all of these but really how many of them have been used purely because they were nearest to me. I daren’t mention the two shoe boxes I have stashed with assorted stationary cupboard “finds” over the years. But hey, I am downsizing them via donation to anybody that will take them.

The goal is to greatly reduce the number of boxes but at the moment I don’t have a figure in my mind as to how many more that I will know when I have the right amount. I have been seeing online some pretty radical adoptions of this goal and although I initially set out to accomplish a similar task I have mellowed a little with the intent to live with seemingly nothing. The original idea was to be limited to a number of items that would fit in one bag. But thinking about this and the future, made me realise I still want to retain a number of things that will remain with family for later collection. Living a minimal way of life doesn’t mean having to live with nothing, therefore I will mostly be living with one bag day to day but when time comes to settle I will have those treasured, meaningful items with me.

So let the ebaying, donating and dumping begin… again!

One Life One Bag – More or less

Birth of a blog

Why is it.

In order to get the ball rolling and to tie myself down to actually committing to ’this’ I started off with a pretty perfunctory overview of what the blog was really about. Now with a bit more time this is an attempt to set out a bit of a map of where this journey is going to take me. As I alluded to in my first post it is really a dry run, a practice, I am also trying to pull together all the different strands that I have been contemplating. I really have no idea where this will take me and it is somewhat daunting as it will take me far outside my comfort zone. Stepping out of the channel of ‘normal’ life is challenging as all around you don’t necessarily understand what or why you are doing it. I do see this as a fluid and ever changing experience. Not that this is a temporary occurrence but like many temporary things in life they can become more permanent. This reminds me of a saying a work colleague had that went along the lines of “nothing as permanent as temporary”. In order to be able to adapt quickly one has to move quickly. Who knows how the current political climate will effect travel but there is always a way.

Having seen the better part of life from the contents of a suitcase living out of one bag may not be as restrictive as one first suspects. I have never really settled anywhere and I am not sure if that is to do with moving at an early age or whether it is because I naturally have nomadic tendencies. I have always struggled with the grass is greener syndrome. But for many reasons stuck to what was expected. I now realised that I missed out on quite a few experiences that should have been taken. However the past is in the past. What matters is now and how choices are made. A long time ago I watched “The Dice-man” with my best mate thinking that would be a great way to live. Now with some time to look back it probably wouldn’t have been the best idea. I have thought about incorporating it in a limited way. The idea of chance and randomness appeals and certainly make for more interesting decisions.

However I now want to experience life from some different angles and in order to do this there must be no ballast.

What is it

I have started to downsize my possessions and am using the three pile rule; keep, assess and chuck. This is really to work out what I really want to keep. Although I am going to have one bag I plan to have maybe one to two boxes of items that I will store with family. These are for the things I really don’t want to part with but don’t want to take on my journey. They will be there for when I settle. As you can see from the pic there is not a huge amount of stuff compared to what I have even three years ago. I am also trying to employ the daily T1TC1T rule too. This stands for “tidy one thing, chuck one thing” and is something I dreamt up. There are a multitude of practitioners in the art of downsizing and living intentionally and I have taken bits from here and there in order to make my own plan. This helps me to keep focused on the task in small but consistent steps.

One of the things that I am finding about planning and researching this is that I am excited about these ideas that are springing. New things keep popping into my head. All of which get noted down on a sticky and filed for later even if I think they are foolish. I have to try and be focused as the tendency is to go off on tangents and not complete whats started. Some of the ideas to explore include:-

Camping & Caravanning

Small Living

Live aboard boat life

Van Life

Alternative Living

Backpacking

Tiny houses

Obviously not all of these can be done at the same time but I wont to see if I can experience as much of it as I can. I also want to travel to far flung places. It was no were near as common to travel when I was growing up and i missed out on a lot of the gap year and backpacking culture that is really normal now. But as I sit writing this I think of all the sites, blogs, channels that have and are documenting there journeys and think is it worth documenting my story. The point is that every story is unique and mine will be too. I am not doing this with any expectation apart from hoping to show that life is truly what you make it. Trust me I have wasted far too much time in search of the something I didn’t really want. But now with this blog it’s all about to change. I am not launching off into the unknown.

When is it

At the moment I am just putting ideas together for mini testing purposes. However I am thinking about a couple of short trips in the new year to try out my ideas. I need to accumulate some kit and liquidise unwanted possessions but the need to do this on a low if not minimum budget is a test and also fun. Winter is a time of hibernation but that wont stop me as ultimately this path will lead me to some exposed living.

So until the next time..

Hello World! A launch into the unknown

Having had a couple of goes at starting blogs without having any real purpose to them, they went the way of many initial enthusiastic launches that fizzled out over time. I just didn’t seem to be able to keep my interest going or slog it out over months of effort. It seems to me that the balance of effort and enthusiasm is always skewed to the later which may not help in the longevity a blog. It cannot be denied that blogging is a bit like setting off on a multi marathon. Don’t get me wrong I am not complaining about having to put the effort in, as the long term blogs I have grown up with probably are all thinking the same thing and are testimony to just keeping going. Like learning any new skill it takes consistency to become proficient. Just keep chipping away at it each day and results will happen

Here I am sitting in front of a glowing laptop screen in the fading light launching off into the unknown again. This time, more than another time.. I’m going to get it right. Now where have I heard that before! But there is a difference to this endeavour in that there is a practical purpose to it. Maybe not immediately but some time in the future the reason for this blog will become a necessity and when it does I want to be prepared. This blog will help me document my journey but I also want to have some fun in the process of carrying out this cunning plan to a smaller more meaningful life.

What is that cunning plan I hear you ask? Well reader it involves as the domain says; one bag one life. What does that mean exactly, well for some time I have been thinking about the amount of stuff I, we, one carry around with ourselves and how much of it we actually need. Want is another matter of course but for the moment I am focusing on the the need part. Having moved again recently, looking through the boxes still to be unpacked I find I have years of accumulation. Useful things, gifted things, forgotten things, sentimental things. But things that I don’t need or want so why give it space.

I know downsizing, minimalism, de-cluttering and all these other usually zen like forms of intentional living are fashionable. But having moved a parental house to a much smaller one I fully understand the phrase fitting a quart into a pint pot. Seeing a once empty and uncluttered space become a cacophony of objects in every space and corner hardens my resolve to live a less cluttered life.

So a lot of this is still in my head and I really am not sure where I am heading with it. But I have some interesting ideas I want to explore. Maybe they will be of interest to you too. There are many people out there documenting their journeys and living the dream but there are plenty more not. I am certainly not unique in my quest for freedom as the internet will happily show you. But I enjoy seeing others journeys and learning from that experience.

Rather than getting caught up trying to craft the perfect post to get started I’m using the “just do it” mantra. So as they say on all good videos; “Let’s get started”

Phew, there it’s done!