I will be the first to admit that starting from a very young age, I liked to collect crap. Paper, video game consoles, movies, Polly -effing- Pockets… anything that I could get my hands on. But I would say the majority of my general stuff was made up of 2 things: Books and Barbies.
I owned a hundred million of each.
As I got older though, I looked at my collection of crap and thought… what the eff? Why wasn’t one or two barbies enough? I mean at least 75% of them were the typical bleach blonde, big blue eyed ones. And why did I have a dozen or more Barbies for every 1 Ken doll? Had I been brainwashed by age 5 to believe men were deserving of harems? What. The. Hell.
Books were a different story. There are some that I’ve still kept simply for nostalgia’s sake. The Laura Ingles Wilder book that my dad and I never finished when I was in grammar school, and my favorite Vonnegut are examples. But I remember de-cluttering my crap and donating half a dozen paper bags full of books, some that I’d read and some that I’d bought thinking I’d read them and never found the inclination to (The Elegant Universe, for example). Why did I have so many books though? That was the real question. It’s not like my city is short on libraries, why did I have to spend hard earned money on things I’d only read once or twice
Point of fact I’ve only read three books more than once:
– Dear God, It’s Me Margaret
– Cat’s Cradle
– Invisible Monsters
So then, why would I willingly spend twenty dollars on a book I’d read in a week and then leave to collect dust for years to come?
It was around the time I was leaving, and de-cluttering my crap, that I realized: I DON’T HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS.
I don’t need a hundred books, or a thousand DVDs, or two million video games. This was further demonstrated on my trip. I lived with the essentials during my time in Sri Lanka, and then wittled it down even further to the bare essentials for India and South East Asia.
And I haven’t looked back since. Well, not really. Much like any addict, I am prone to slipping. My addiction? Collecting stuff. Magazines, papers I’d done exceptional on, clothes (don’t even get me started on my obsession with sweaters, it’s still a demon I am fighting).
So my quest for true minimalism continues on (albeit at a snail’s pace). Some people have mastered it, others have attempted to and wound up somehow doing a 180 and accumulating even more stuff. This is not my intent.
While I recognize that there are certain items I rarely use now a days but will certainly keep (I’ll never be able to part with my Super Nintendo, it’s more family than just a box inwhich to play Mario on), the majority of things I own are superfluous.
I have no concrete goal in mind. I don’t think I’m hardcore enough to do the “100 things challenge” whereby one weeds through everything they own until they own only 100 things.
And I own too much stuff to have a checklist of everything I own and slowly check items off as I see fit. HOWEVER! What I intend to do is quantify it as best I can. For example: donating a 32 gallon size bag full of clothes, or tossing out a coffee pot (I’m tired of pretending I’m addicted to Starbucks and haven’t made my own cup o’ joe in months). The idea sounds a lot more new age zen hippy-dippy than I think it actually is:
declutter your life, declutter your mind