With 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!