We are clearing out our house, getting ready to leave it as we prepare to move abroad in a few months. We have kept our stuff while living here to a reasonably small amount. I’m pretty happy with the results so far. Minus clothes, some pots, a few books, and electronics, this is pretty much it.
Depending on where you are in your own journey with stuff, this may seem like a lot, or not very much. From my perspective, it’s a case of lots done, lots to do.
The biggest challenge to us coming in at a more respectable volume is more books – all the books! Although most are in the boxes pictured above. The accumulation of books goes against the grain of my general actions on gathering these days.
Minimalism is doing the rounds a lot. Much of the practical end of the advice it offers really works – it is mentally, physically, and financially liberating to cast off the shackles of unconscious accumulation.
The journey has started for us here in Dublin. We are going to be moving to Ecuador to live for six months in September. We intend to build a small cabin to live in, bringing only what we need. At the start we wont have any electricity, water, or cooking equipment. We’ll add what we want. We will have neighbours with all these things. We won’t be going full-Thoreau on it, but doing what seems sensible for us. It will be an experiment, a lived one, and will give us different reference points to life in Ireland.
At what point does giving away or selling stuff at the extreme end of the scale become a bit silly? To be honest no amount of simplifying or rejecting materialism strikes me as silly, it depends on the person’s circumstances. Ultimately it’s sometimes the message that becomes a bit silly. The very odd minimalist blurb I come across reads a like fashion statement about how liberated the person is from the trappings of the material world. Freeeee from it all, man. Well you know, good for them.
We all have ‘stuff’ we like, for me it has always been books and guitars. One of the reasons I have started exploring this idea of voluntary simplicity is that I really believe in it as a big contributor to happiness. It may not be for everyone, but there is a lot to be gained from it. Getting rid of unwanted stuff is just so liberating.
The fact that most of us struggle to do so is a sign that the world is choc full of useless shit anyway.
I used to have the pretty expensive and space-consuming habit of wandering into music shops and finding the best quality, cheapo guitar I could find. The contradiction in that statement was mediated sufficiently by the fact I rarely had much money to spend. Having convinced myself that whatever I had found was in fact the best bargain in the shop, I’d likely buy it. Going into a music shop to buy something for someone else was the only substantial mitigating factor on this rather compulsive behaviour.
As I sit here looking at the boxes of books we are moving out, I can console myself that at least it is not a case of moving all those guitars. They have gone to happy homes under this newer regime. Although I think it has been reigned in pretty well, the compulsive and impulsive part of my personality rises like the morning sunshine at the sight of a book shop, or even the words ‘books for sale’. It makes me feel bright and warm inside.
The books are definitely an improved, distilled version of this older habit. A refinement. The end result is more satisfying. The good books will stand up to repeated reads over the years, can be exchanged with friends, and won’t be taken out by solar storms.
That last paragraph is definitely me speaking to myself. When you are explaining such things, you are probably losing. You can’t beat yourself anyway.
It’s the journey that matters and refining the habits is part of the ride.