Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Getting rid of stuff

This past weekend we made some great advances towards de-cluttering our lives. First thing Saturday morning my wife and I headed down to the basement to start going through all of our stuff that was stowed away in boxes.

The very thought of that, stuff sitting in closed boxes bugs me. How long do I leave it in there before I surrender to the fact that indeed, I don't use this stuff. Rarely do I think about most of it, and even rarer still is when I actually use it. For some reason, I've been believing that there was good reason to stick stuff into boxes, stack the boxes is some far off, hard-to-reach corner of the basement, and then leave it. Seriously? What's up with that? Crazy.

We rid old collectibles (anyone have use for an 1852 printing of Noah Webster's work, the dictionary? - still trying to rationalize why I need this incredible book in my basement) old decorations and stuff that meant something to us at one time, but now simply bother me, as I have to move them around to access other junk in the basement.

It all started when we first moved from Strathmore to Rockyford several years ago. Moving will do that to you. Especially when you move to a smaller house. Even while in Rockyford, I was continually chipping away at my collection of worldly possessions. 5 pick-up loads in a year! That's a lot of stuff. That was just the start.

After moving back to Strathmore, we again did some major purging so we wouldn't have to just move stuff and stick it back into hiding, and I would say that compared to most (always a terrible measuring device - other people) we don't have that much junk we don't use. But to me, still too much. We had two food dehydrators. We've only ever had one going at a time. Why have two?

Since making the switch to a mac computer, I thought I should keep my PC desktop and laptop just incase I need them for some obscure business software I couldn't live without. A year now and the need for such software hasn't arisen. After I remove the personal information, I'll have two decent computers in need of a good home. Even on my mac, I'm becoming ruthless at keeping the desktop clean. I'll try out new programs, but if I don't use them actively, I uninstall. All my image files I'm working on are stored in multiple hard drives (took about a year to figure a fast, secure means of processing my digital work) and it keeps my computer free and clean. When I need to find something on it, there is no scrolling through useless or misplaced electronic information. I know where stuff is, and I can access it very fast when I need to. All that is a result of conscious sifting, and removing.

Whether it be electronic data, or cheap junk at walmart, we seem to be so given to consumerism. The idea seems to spread that just because we can have something, we should. Widget this, doodad that. All these things that we don't need, but since we can "afford" them (and I quote un-quote afford, because if you aren't paying cash, you probably can't "afford" it), and they were offered to us, we should indeed purchase them, take them home, and then stick them in boxes in our basement, or store it in a folder on our computers.

I've been calling it minimalism as of late, but it's more than that. While I do love the minimalist aesthetic, and the ideals, it also has a lot to do with attitude. Contentment. Being happy with what you have, and not want want want more. I used to think of contentment as settling. After fighting it out with junk in my basement, I now view contentment as a superior train of thought, and one that I now seek out with passion.

I'm trying to work my way to 100 personal items. Not sure I'll ever get there, but that is the goal. Not just for the sake of making a particular goal, but rather simply because the more stuff I'm getting rid of, the clearer my mind is, the less time I waste organizing junk, and the more liberated I feel.

To have less to worry about and fret over is a good thing isn't it? Then own less and ride a bike. See?!


Pondero said...

I am a staunch supporter of the simple life, the reduction of consumerism, minimalism, and contentment. I'm just no good at it. I think I need a coach, a support group, or something. Isn't there are product I can BUY that will simplify my life? Er...wait a minute...see what I mean?

Jerome said...

yeah, I'm picking up what you're putting down.

For me, it's probably the fact that little kids are prone to leaving little messes around the house so much, that I'm on constant vigilance to maintain order and tidiness in the house. I think my sensitivity to stuff out of place has been heightened. The less stuff, the less out-of-placeness, the more peace and relaxation!

rigtenzin said...

Have you read any of Bike Snob's posts about minimalism? They're funny. I'm a supporter of being happy with what you have and cutting down on stuff and I can laugh at Bike Snob's jokes.

Jerome said...

No I haven't. I'll check it out though. Thanks.