When Less Is Truly More
Every day I get rid of things. I give away, recycle, donate, sell. The energy in the house is moving again, and that feels good.
It’s amazing how much there is to do when someone dies. Everything a person owned, wore, used, collected, emailed, read or filed has to be dealt with in some way.
While I knew that (how could I not?) I didn’t really know that. Not really.
Unfortunately or fortunately, my house has great closets, a giant walk-in pantry, and other roomy storage spaces. All the better to stash things, all the better to say “I’ll deal with that later.”
Which is exactly what we did.
So now, every day I’m lightening. Sorting. Giving away. Going through. Discarding.
And then I fall into bed and get up the next morning and do it all over again.
THE JAPANESE WAY
A few months before Eric passed, I knew there was going to be big work ahead. To prepare myself I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.
My emotional and attitudinal state while reading her book ranged from fairly OK to complete horror.
Fairly OK: “Alright, alright, I’ll sort. I have too much stuff.”
Appreciation: She says tidying doesn’t mean you are choosing what to get rid of, you’re choosing what to keep. That’s a nice focus.
Total agreement: She believes that discarding is always a first step. Then store. That made perfect sense.
Silent awe: She proposes that those of us who can’t keep a tidy home don’t have an organizing problem, we have an excess problem. She says we simply have too many things.
Complete horror: She advises sorting belongings by category, not location. This means, according to the tidy Ms. Kondo, that you bring ALL the clothes in your home to one location for sorting. (Oh, Gawd, no… me and whose army is going to do this? Shall we break out the tequila? How does one get through this project in any sort of timely manner?!?)
She’s got a legitimate point, though. It’s the only way to see the enormity of what we own. With or without the tequila, a sobering exercise, I’m sure.
All in all, she’s got a great book full of helpful hints, including mystifying categories such as photos, sentimental items, lecture materials, credit card statements, and yes, even spare buttons. She is thorough.
TWO GUYS WHO TEACH “LESS IS MORE”
For inspiration to party on (keep cleaning and sorting) I’ve listened to the gentlemen who call themselves The Minimalists.
They point to research saying that spending money on experiences rather than things makes us happier. (I get this. It could be my new trend.)
One of their experiments, however, involved an awareness exercise — don’t buy any new gadgets, clothes… (I don’t remember the extensive list) for a year. Obviously, they bought food. While I get their point, the challenge sounds unnecessarily stressful to me.
After that, they began a practice of waiting before buying. If they saw a cool new toy in the store, they waited a certain period of time to see if it still rang their chimes. If it was a must-buy after this waiting period, they bought it. Otherwise, they let it go.
The minimalist approach to living touts that clarity increases when you’ve sorted your possessions and keep only what sparks joy. Life is simpler. More manageable. There’s time for more important things when our stuff is in order.
I get it.
Having less is a good thing. Keeping only things that bring me joy is a very good thing.
I’m on it.
Now, back to sorting…