This weekend I read Everything That Remains, which inspired me to jettison piles of our belongings. I don't necessarily recommend the book, which is a memoir of two men who abandoned their corporate, consumerist lifestyle and embraced minimalism, but I found the concept fascinating.
Space is a premium in our new house with only two closets for the three, soon to be four, of us. I felt great after our last trip to Goodwill, but reading the book showed me that I can let go of so much more.
In the book, the authors talked about how people hold on to items "just in case," when years and year go by without that case ever presenting itself. Guilty. If something is useful, I feel like we should keep it, even if we don't actually use it. When I objectively looked at the situation I saw how silly it was to keep these kinds of "useful" items around. So gone are the chopsticks rolling around in the kitchen, the skirts I haven't worn for years, and the exercise equipment collecting dust.
I also identified with the concept of objects representing our identity. We hold on to books because we want people to know that we are well-read, board games because we want to show we are are fun-loving, crafting supplies because we want to feel creative. Sometimes we are trying to tell those stories to other people, but a lot of the time we are telling them to ourselves. Admitting to myself that I am never going to read my religion textbooks from college again and removing them from the shelf felt fantastic. So did donating the empty picture frames that taunted me with my inability to print out photos to place inside.
My biggest challenge has been letting go of gifts
people have bought for me over the years. I feel intense guilt donating
or selling an item someone gave us, even if I never use it. There are a couple of big-ticket items I am still holding onto because I can't get over the fact someone gave it to me, even though I almost never use either one. The gift givers would want me to pass it on to someone who would use it, right?
Earlier this week I sorted through my portion of our dresser drawers, went through HP's toys and books, the kitchen drawers, our bookshelf, and am finally finishing sorting through and digitizing our CD collection. Next task: the file cabinet. I am fairly certain I have our electric bills from five years ago neatly filed in a folder. Seems unlikely that I will need those in the future.
When a friend and her daughter came over yesterday she said, "Your house looks so clean!" My response: "Clean? You mean that it looks liberated from all of the physical objects that were mentally and emotionally weighing me down? Why yes it does."
Okay, I didn't say that. But I thought it.
Less stuff. More space. So liberating.