I remember when I went off to college. I rented a one bedroom unit that was part of a larger, Victorian-era home that was split into several apartments. The floors were lopsided and my bedroom, being a converted porch, was drafty and cold in the wintertime. The summers were likewise sweltering – there was no air conditioning.
But I loved it. Loved it beyond reason because it was my own space. There is a lot of joy in having your own space.
For several months before I moved I gathered together stuff I would need for my new home. Some dishes, glasses, silverware. A set of four mugs sporting different post-impressionistic paintings (Gaugin, Van Gogh). Picture frames, candles.
Each purchase was carefully wrapped up and placed in a box to await my move to my very own place (insert giddily excited expression). It all amounted to just a few boxes. A couple of times I unpacked the boxes just to look at the things I had bought, then packed them all back up.
The objects held a larger than life meaning for me because of what they represented: independence, freedom, the excitement of a new place and new friends, access to all the knowledge I was so hungry for.
I made that apartment mine. I turned it into an expression of me. It was so much fun. Since then, I did the same thing with each new place that I lived, with the notable exception of my most recent home (but all that's changing now).
When I was a freshman in college, my mom died. I inherited a lot of her stuff. I had no idea what to do with it, but getting rid of it seemed sacrilegious. So I carted around with me each time I moved.
Since I graduated from university, I have spent most of my life accumulating. To the point where I now feel weighed down by stuff.
I was only recently that I realized that each time I bought something, I was still buying the experience I wanted it to bring me. When I was feeling overworked and overwhelmed, I bought books and candles and bath salts. But what I really wanted was the time and space to just relax and unwind. More often than not, the books and candles were tucked away somewhere and not used. Because even though I bought them, I still didn't have the time to enjoy them.
When I longed for my home to feel comfortable and safe, I bought quilting patterns and fabrics. Or baking pans or cookbooks.
I kept trying to purchase the experience of feeling at home. Of feeling relaxed and comfortable and in a place I belonged. I suppose what all this means is that I was an advertiser's dream because that is exactly what advertising does – tries to sell us a positive experience.
These past two years have been a time of finding my center, of coming home to myself again. Or maybe for the first time.
The more I unwind, the more I look around and wonder what I'm doing with all this stuff. Stuff and more stuff. I live under a pile of stuff!
Now, quite suddenly, I long for it to be gone. I long for a clean, simple space.
I've gotten rid of quite a bit of it the last several months. But there's still more. MORE.
So this is my plan. I'm going to take the month of October and see how much stuff I can get rid of. It's a challenge. If I don't need it, use it, absolutely love it, it's going.
I will be posting pictures on my Facebook wall of everything I get rid of. In fact, a truck is coming tomorrow to pick up a bunch of donated items for a local charity (goodbye, post-impressionistic mugs!).
Do you want to join me? If you want to lighten your load, too, feel free to post pictures on my Facebook wall of the bags/boxes/furniture/whatever you decided to unload. Even just one box of stuff out the door, one clean closet, will make you feel better.
I am convinced that life is metaphor. If you want to create something new in your life, you need to make room for it. I have a vision of the experiences and qualities I'd like to have more of in my life. Right now, I am clearing the deck to make room for them.
What about you? Do you want to bring something new into your life? Do you need to make space for it?
I wonder just how much stuff, collectively, we can remove from our paths.
Let's do this together, shall we? Care to join?