An Invitation to Minimalism
Today, and yesterday, and definitely tomorrow, I will be packing. And de-cluttering, emptying closets, filling bags with charity donations, and generally removing stuff from my house. A painter will will be sanding and painting, and then I will scurry in behind him and finishing cleaning up. All this is due to sticking 8 people into an 1830 square foot house that would usually hold 2 to 5 people, (not optimally hold, just mostly likely hold,) and the sheer volume of necessary stuff required to keep us takes up a lot of room. Tables for 8, high chairs, bunk beds, a really big sectional in the front room so we can all watch TV. But when you are trying to sell your house, like we will be doing right away, you need it to look spacious, empty and like a Wonderlandesque rabbit hole of storage possibilities. So everything that is not nailed down (nearly) is going into a box.
Which is great. It’s lovely and liberating. Why? I really hate stuff. Not always — when I was a kid I used to have drawer of “special things” that I only pulled out and looked at twice a year. I was a hoarder raised by hoarders, surrounded by piles of Woman’s Day and Chatelaine, and reprints of baby care books from the 1930’s. “It could come in handy one day,” I always heard. It never did, but it could. But what they, we, were really saying was “That’s someone I could become one day.” Someone caught up on her reading who had delicious recipes cooking up on the stove, someone who knew exactly what to do with a crying baby (if it was 1936,) someone who made crafts and seasonal centrepieces, who finished afghans because they started them, who was always fashionably dressed, who has lost that baby weight and can wear that dress again. Someone who looks just like me, but only a little bit better. And, by saying “good-bye” to all these better-me projects, I am forced to admit that I am okay just they way I am. Sure, there is always room for improvement (patience, perhaps?) but how much true self-improvement and growth have I delayed until I finish whatever I have stored in my closet. It’s the classic refrain of the procrastinator: “Oh, sure, I should do that. I just need to do this first….”
Looking out at my newly patched and pristine walls (yes, I know it won’t last a week, but let me have my moment,) it reminded me of being a kid and looking out over a field of freshly fallen snow. Snow so deep that it spilled into the top of your Sorels when you tried to clomp through it. It was so randomly perfect, a complete feat of nature impossible to replicate by human means. In my desire to capture that feeling of pristineness, I would run out into the snow leaving a gash of my footprints behind me. As I turned around to look, I would realize that by trying to consume it, I had destroyed the beauty I was trying to possess. Some things can only be appreciated, and not consumed. As soon as you try to take them home and stuff them into your crammed cupboards and over-scheduled weekends, they’re lost. The beauty leaves us when we try to grab too tight.
I am shocked, again, how much better the kids are playing with a ¼ the toys they had, how much easier they get dressed without 6 pink t-shirts to choose from, and how much faster the bathrooms clean up without having to move 10 different vials of Face-This and Skin-That. It’s liberating and lightening, and hopefully it lasts. Maybe instead of the 100 Mile Diet we need the 150 Item Household (is it possible?) All I know is that benefit #1 of the move is a new appreciation of nothing.