Too Much Stuff

empty room
Credit: flickr / tozzer577

I’ve been posting a few articles on Twitter about Minimalism lately. It was apt as I was trying to declutter in preparation for moving.

Mostly, though, I post articles about how Minimalism is not necessarily The Way. The concept frustrates me – when I read about people with less than 100 items, I just think about how that cannot include a pair of skis.

I could never get rid of my skis.

My favorite article was this one, which points out – “if you’re fixated on owning less stuff, you’re still fixated on stuff”. So I’ve been aiming to be less attached to things, rather than having some arbitrary number of things that I think I “need”.

Leaving, I had a rule, if someone likes it, I seriously evaluate living without it. And so I gave away a bookcase that I could probably have used (but now maybe I’ll evaluate the books I have and get rid of those I won’t read again), a training top, various kitchen implements, and a lot of my clothes. Including – some size 4 jeans I’d been hoarding in the hope that, I don’t know, I’d develop tuburculosis and not be able to eat for two months, and have some actual bone removed?

Obviously, I wasn’t hoping for that, although that is probably the only way I’ll be a size 4 again (for those of you who don’t know me in person, I’m built curvy, and actively build a lot of muscle in order to manage the hyper-flexibility in my joints).

So I got rid of them. And released myself from the unreachable standard that I’d been holding myself to. I had more energy and worked out more in the week following than I had in a while. I’m still in the gym more, and enjoying it more too. Rationally, I knew that size 4 was not a rational or reasonable goal for me. Getting rid of those jeans shouldn’t have made a difference – and yet, it did. It freed me from that expectation and allowed me to focus on recovering from my injuries; building more muscle, and increasing my fitness.

Unpacking, I’m still finding things that I don’t need or want. I’m putting them in a box in an effort to create an ongoing, constant de-cluttering habit. But, the three pairs of skis propped against a wall (one x-country!) don’t bother me. I’m excited to hang my art. I’m keeping the items that add to my life, but letting go of the ones that I’ve mindlessly acquired. I’ve lived out of a suitcase, in  the same pair of jeans, the same few t-shirts. Even if it takes me longer to pack when I move, it’s nice to have my art on the walls, my clothes in my closet, a selection of shoes to choose from.

Teri wrote a thoughtful post in response to a link I shared. It made me realize – that there’s the stuff that holds us back, whether by making it impossible to move, or by comparing us to a standard we set when we were 18 (in the case of those jeans). And there’s the stuff that sets us free – to hack, or in my case – to ski.

2 thoughts on “Too Much Stuff

  1. Minimalists are supposed to be free from attachment, but I think they forget that attachment to thoughts and feelings are the same as attachment to things. Buddha wasn’t just talking about items. Part of Taoism is to free ourselves from attachment, so I’ve done my best to find a happy medium. I like “stuff,” like office supplies and books and food. I asked a friend about the 100 item thing once. I asked, “So do you count every paperclip at your desk or every food item or your hair clips or your socks or underwear or tea bags or forks?” Am I just blinded by materialism because I have 50 individual tea bags in my cabinet or 50 books? To her benefit, she really does only own 100 items and I think that is awesome that she wants to do that. It isn’t for everyone. We are all different.
    I wrote a post about this over the summer as I was getting rid of a lot of my old things. I got rid of enough that I also had to get rid of storage containers. So that is a plus. The clothers are a huge freedom thing… nothing in my closet is a size 4 or 6 anymore. I might get back to that one day, but for now, I’m a size 8/10 and seeing smaller clothes just depressed me. I don’t identify myself with my belongings, but many of the things I own have very special meaning (love letters or cards signed by my grandmother) or I worked really hard to save money to purchase them (my pottery barn dishes and art work) or friends gave them to me (items from Japan). If I had to, sure, I’d get rid of every damn thing in this apartment except my cat. My important documents and papers are in safety deposit box anyway. But I’m very sentimental. I don’t think that is always a bad thing. In your case, your skiis are very important to you. My brother would have a hard time giving up his bike for similar reasons.

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