Sunday, February 7, 2010
What constitutes surviving, thriving and being happy? Damned if I know.
There is nothing like being forced to empty a couple of rooms in your house to make way for repairs and painting to realize you have way too much STUFF. I had to pack up the contents of the china cabinet, a sideboard, an armoire and bookcases. I had to pack and wrap up decorative accessories, remove all the art, move out all the furniture, roll up the carpets and FINALLY get rid of the drapes that had been hanging in my windows since we bought the house that I have never liked. Now I have an opportunity to pare down the space after the painting is finished, weed out the art I no longer like, rotate the carpets between rooms and update the chandelier and window treatments. It would be nice to replace the furniture as well, but the budget will not allow for that, so I will have to live with it for a while yet. I help people do this for a living. I plan their new spaces, choose furniture, pick paint colours and try to stick to their budgets. It's easier doing it for them. I don't have any attachment to their old things. Banish them I can say. Not so easy with my own old things. I suffer from the "what if" syndrome. What if my daughter can use these old tea cups and saucers handed down from my great aunt and grandmother one day? How do I banish them? What if I decide I want to start polishing silver again - maybe I need to hang on to all these useless pieces of old silver. What if I start using that silver tea service when I'm 75? What if, what if, what if? I used to save old crap in case I bought a cottage one day. I stopped doing that when I realized if I ever did buy a cottage, I wouldn't want to fill it up with a bunch of old crap anyway. I would want to fill it up with fun new colourful stuff from Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn. Screw all those mismatched plates and glasses - a new cottage would call for fun new stuff. We live in such a consumer-driven world. The work I do contributes to the hype. I struggle every day between wanting and needing. On one hand, I imagine myself living surrounded by all the beautiful things I see everyday and on the other, I crave simplicity. A minimalist existence with only the barest of necessities. Am I alone? Or does everyone share my struggle? Is it because of what I do for a living that creates my schizoid view of how I don't know how I want to live? I want to run away sometimes and leave it all behind me. Live like I did when I backpacked through Europe when I was young and unencumbered with "things". How did I get from there to here? I carried my entire life around on my back for almost four months. I survived. I thrived. I was happy. I did it again a couple of years later in the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. I survived. I thrived. I was happy. Now I have a house full of stuff. I do still survive. I just don't know if I'm thriving.....or happy. And for the record, I am NOT turning my old silver tea pot into a lamp - the way I see it, that's a stretch for even the most avid of recyclers out there. (see photo above for what NOT to do.)