Going minimal

Posted: October 4, 2014 in Blogs
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I have always been in awe of the enormity of the world; the many people all with their families, their houses, their cars. Everyone buying things, throwing things away, boiling their kettles and switching on lights. I feel like this when I drive half an hour down the road and experience traffic – as soon a I start to consider the rest of the UK, Europe and the world, I feel like my brain might spontaneously combust with the hugeness of it all. I often wonder how much longer it can go on, how much more the planet can take, before something deep within the core of the earth revolts. People are just breeding more and more people, into a world that is struggling to support us. It’s one of my reasons for not wanting to reproduce, that and a stark phobia of the pregnancy and childbirth thing. There are certain words in everyday pregnancy chat that I can’t even stomach without a spell of passing out threatening me. I’m at the unfortunate age where this kind of chat seems to be rife as well!

With this sort of contemplation, I guess it is no surprise that my latest harebrained quest in life is to rid myself of all my possessions in an attempt to live a more simple life, free from attachment to material things. Obviously we need a certain amount of stuff in order to take part in everyday life, but it wasn’t until I started taking stock of the abundance of stuff I had, that I realised that I might just be able to adjust to not having it. With stuff comes responsibility, looking after it, storing it, cleaning it, and paying for its upkeep. It can be quite scary getting rid of things, we ask ourselves what might happen if we suddenly need it, and this becomes a fear that perpetuates hoarding! However, the other side of fear is an ultimate freedom, like jumping out of an aeroplane (with a parachute I might add) or throwing yourself down a snowy mountain with two planks strapped to your feet.

After two car boot sales profiting in a hundred pounds, as well as selling a 37” TV, two bikes, a camera, clothes and my car, I started to realise that this going minimal attitude was not just about what you own or don’t own. It’s far more than that, as it translates into every area of life. If you have less and are happier for it, then you learn to appreciate the way things are, and it opens up a whole realm of possibilities. There are also some positive side effects from relinquishing responsibility for stuff; you have more money and more time. Which means that if you do suddenly find you need something that you haven’t got or you parted with, you can just invest in it. You are also more likely to invest in quality items too. Of course you don’t always have to part with cash or own and item to use it, minimal living might suggest that before you do that you try to borrow it or buy it and donate it to somebody else who needs it.

We are all plagued by marketing, bombarding us every day, making us feel want and need, making us compare ourselves to others and questioning our worth. I came across a great quote that I can’t take credit for, but it stuck with me, ‘Your legacy is not in the attic and you can’t keep relationships in storage. Let go. All of that stuff matters much less than you think.” I think it struck a chord because my family has always been one that has a whole treasure trove of belongings in the attic. I myself have kept things boxed up in storage, that my poor mum has had to hold onto for me because it’s stuff I don’t want in my own house! The reality is, if it is put away in a box and not even in the house you live in, do you really need it? When I started this process I was guilty of having every single cinema ticket I’d ever got, packed into a shoebox, every single letter that I had ever received, including notes passed in class. I think parting with the former most could agree, should not present too much emotional turmoil. But what about the latter? As human beings we have an incredible ability to attach meaning and emotion to stuff. We fear guilt at getting rid of gifted items, of throwing away letters and parting with keepsakes.

I still have a ‘Mikey’ box. Mikey was my boyfriend when I was at university, whom no one has ever lived up to. Talk about living in the past! I decided it was time that my Mikey memorabilia had to go. It doesn’t change anything about what he meant to me then, none of that stuff is my connection to him. Letting go of things like that gives you license to live in the now and enjoy every moment of the present.

I’ve done all of this de-cluttering fairly slowly and it’s a process I’m still taking part in daily. There have been milestones – parting with every single medal or trophy I had was hard but it hasn’t changed the fact that I have taken part in endless competitions, races, events, and tournaments; I’ll never forget my London Marathon experience that’s for sure! I’m approaching this with the valour of a Roman warrior though, I plan to go whole hog. It’s like religion gets some people, minimalism has got me. At the moment my possessions, with the exception of my bike, fit in one room. Soon, I will have the campervan of my dreams and I will store everything I own inside it. Wherever I go, I will have everything I need. I’ll be living small so I can live big. I’m looking forward to slowing the pace of my life down and having time for what really matters. My next big milestone is my books; I have a love for my books and I haven’t parted with them yet, but there’s no room for a bookcase in my campervan, so they are next on the list!

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