I’ve been flirting with minimalism for a long time.
Minimalism is about having what you need. It’s about letting go of things that take up space and time that you would rather devote to something else. It’s a life style that encompasses everything from spiritual awakening to monitoring your carbon footprint. There is a form of minimalism for nearly anyone.
I consider minimalism to be a spiritual affair. Embracing empty spaces and keeping only the possessions that I use is an act of faith. I believe that I will be alright without truckloads of odds and ends. I am not afraid of wanting for anything because I believe I will have the opportunity to acquire things. I will get what I need when I need it.
Lots of people would call me a minimalist. I am not a person who hangs on to “things”. Even as a teenager, while other girls were filling scrapbooks with memento’s and photos and odds and ends I was rummaging through drawers to locate and annihilate anything I didn’t need. In my twenties I was as likely to live in a tent or a hut as a house, and paring down my possessions was a matter of necessity. As I have gotten more settled, my list of items has crept up.
These days, I have too much stuff. I live in a tiny house, with limited storage space. I chose this house on purpose – and I knew that it would severely limit the amount of stuff that I could expect to bring home. I prefer my possessions to be useful, decent looking, well maintained, multipurpose, properly stored and long lasting. I can guarantee that about half the things I own right now, do not fit those criteria.
When you settle into one residence and stay for a number of years, you bring things home. People give you things. Your junk drawer overflows and your closet suddenly houses shady characters you don’t quite recognize. I have lived in this house for long enough to have accumulated things I don’t use, don’t want or in some cases don’t even remember.
Over the past few weeks I have been doing some purging. I’ve been sorting various drawers and cabinets and really examining my possessions. I ask myself, if I charged this item rent for living here, would it have enough opportunity in any given year to work off the debt? In an embarrassing number of cases, the answer is no. If an item is not able to earn its keep, it must fall into one of two categories. It is either a sentimental item that makes me happy, or it is just “stuff” and can be removed. I am a big fan of donating unused and unsuitable possessions. I’ve practiced it most of my life.
There are things that I will never part with, even though I only enjoy them once a year – like certain Farley Mowat books I have been reading since I was in grade two. There are a few movies that I love and watch over and over. These are things I will always come back to, and consider worth having at my finger tips.
Over the next few weeks I will be continuing my purging project, and probably slipping in some spring cleaning. Most of the items I no longer wish to house will be donated to friends, family or charity or sold online. I will store a few very sentimental items that I can’t part with but don’t wish to display.
Minimalism does not have to be about creating a sterile existence and living like a monk. It can be, if you want – but in my case it is about accountability. I want to possess the things I need or enjoy, without being possessed by them. I believe that creating empty spaces encourages creativity. I know for a fact that a clean and uncluttered living space will triple my productivity, drastically boost my mood and increase my energy level.
What are you hanging on to?
Katie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca