Simplicity Update...

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Things at home on the 'path to self sufficiency' are taking a back seat at the moment. The main focus now is a 'path to simplicity' in preparation for our upheaval.

It's not that I don't care anymore or that I've changed my mind, I just have to think a bit more about the short term right now. The future will come, but we have no idea what we'll be doing yet or where.

So over the next few weeks I have to analyze all the possessions we have and decide what to do with them all. We have managed to collect quite a bit of general clutter, just because we thought we would be staying for another 2 years. I suppose the longer you plan on staying in one place, the more you collect. I'm quite accustomed now to packing my life up into boxes, the funny thing is opening them a few years later and wondering 'Why on earth did I save that?'

So sitting here wondering 'Have I really got that much stuff? I thought about the different types of things that seem to appear the longer I stay in one place. Home comforts become more permanent. Temporary things amass. 'Things that might be useful one day' get forgotten in deep cupboards and lofts. Attachment then turns to suffering...

So I've been mentally de-cluttering. Window shopping in my own home, deciding what I really love, what can go now, what can go soon and what I might miss. I am quite harsh when it comes to clearing out, the 'Obliteator' in me often wins. Though I have many times just wished I had kept something that really could have been useful!

So instead of being stressed about how much I have now and how much I have to get rid of, I categorized my 'things' into 3 main groups, so I could easily plan the 'Minimize and Simplify Project'. They are:

* Prized possessions - beautiful things collected throughout life. 

For me that includes a few big books about India, photography, Buddhism, cookery and beautiful interior design. I don't buy books anymore because I am forever on the move, so the few I have decided to keep mean a lot to me. 

I spent some time practicing Tibetan Buddhism at a difficult time in my life so I have a few books, prayer texts, mala's and Buddha images which I cherish. I think I have found the concept of religion too difficult for me to grasp any specific belief, but if any has made a profound impact on me, it would be the Buddhist philosophy.

Framed photos of our family. Only a few but very precious to me.

I have a bit of an obsession with natural material baskets and boxes. I have a few that I keep because they are hard to find now and very expensive. I wouldn't rush to save them in a fire but I won't get rid of them just to simplify because they help me contain all the little things you need that otherwise clutter your life, like toiletries and 'bits and bobs'.

I have one painting, a piece of aboriginal art, I bought in Australia. It cost me £350 nearly 10 years ago and I love it. I doubt I would ever sell it.

My MacBook. It's a big part of my life right now. I'm sure you can relate. I have all my photos and music backed up on an external hard drive and photos double backed up on DVD. Plus there's all the miles of cables that seems to be a part of laptop life, I never could understand why something that was supposed to be so portable, ends up weighing three times more when you include the cables! Long live wireless networks and hurry up with the no cable solar powered supply...

I don't count jewellery as a possession because it's a part of me. I never take it off and it doesn't clutter my life.

* Transitional things - functional and practical objects for everyday life.

Things for each room in the house. Kitchen crockery, cutlery, pots, pans, pillows, furniture. I could walk away very easily and leave it all behind. Most of it I will leave for the next tenant as we have bought a lot to make the place homely such as a kitchen blind and shelves. 

Clothes. I never really cared much for fashion, I'm more of a comfortable jeans and flip flops girl. So clothes have never been a problem for me to part with, more that they fall apart because they are so cheap!

* Consumables - Things that get used up.

Eatables (as they like to call them in India!), cleaning products, toiletries. I have already made a big effort in the past to reduce these. 

My menu planning has reduced our stock of food to a minimal supply. Oh yes... those cleaning bottles are still there. It doesn't matter now, they're staying, along with the Ecover that I will be leaving to encourage the new tenant into (eco)nciousness. Travelling light makes you realise how little you really need to get by with each day, so I rarely have too many toiletries. I don't wear make up and I rarely brush my hair let alone put stuff in it or dry it with cabled electronics. If there's anything left I give it away.


I like to think of it like cleansing my life down to a minimum again, so as scary as it all seems to be, when I'm looking at a packed bag or a cardboard box, I know that it's the start of a new adventure, with no extra baggage...


Barbara said...

I moved from the US to Australia
twenty years ago and had to reduce
the contents of a house to a few
cartons in a container. I had always lived a fairly simple life
and had spent a lot of time
travelling and living out of a backpack but I was amazed at how much I had amassed! Once you have
to get rid of stuff you quickly realize what's important and what's

Anonymous said...

I too have made several moves from the UK to Canada and vice versa. I was always amazed at how much stuff I had once I started having to get rid of it all, and what amazed me even more was the time it took, especially when I thought I didn't have much to do. I like the 'minimize and simplify' approach that way you'll only have with you, the essentials and those things you really love and can't part with!!


Kel said...

i really admire your approach, your drive and your committment to a new and focussed life.