Friday, May 24, 2013
Caution! Road Work Ahead!
The road to minimalist living is filled with potholes, detours, traffic jams, missing directional signs and more obstacles than you could ever imagine. I am on that road now and I can report with first hand knowledge that it requires precise navigation and nerves of steel.
You have to be absolutely certain that the minimalist destination is where you want to be headed. But that is the funny thing about life - is anything really absolute? In my experience, no. It is however one of those roads, that once you start heading down it, U-turns are difficult and even if you do make one successfully, there is no guarantee that turning back will get you where you want to go either. So, I am forging ahead and slowly but surely discarding everything I have accumulated over the course of my life on this planet.
There is a dude who has reduced his life to 100 things. I don't know that I will achieve that, but compared to what I once owned, it will seem like even less. The furniture is a tough one for me, especially any pieces I have purchased in the last couple of years that have been barely used and still give me that "new stuff visual joy hit". I keep telling myself it can all be replaced again if necessary, but the chances of that are slim. My next permanent space will likely be a whole new look and none of it would really work anyway.
The clothing is proving less angst-ridden than I had anticipated. I tend to grow bored with clothing within a season or two anyway with the odd exception, so between gifting it to friends and consigning the more expensive pieces, by Monday I hope to have reduced it to 3 suitcases. A lofty goal at that, but I will store some business clothing and excess coats and party dresses and things I won't be wearing. If I ever need them again, I know where to find them.
So just as I was moving down the road managing to navigate the bumps fairly well, I hit a bloody big road block last night that really stopped me in my tracks. I had been collecting boxes to prepare for this one. I knew it was up ahead, but I had no idea the impact it would have on me. It was time to empty the bookshelves. I had already reduced their numbers when I moved out of my house two years ago. At that time, I only kept the books I really loved and books that I tend to reference. As I looked at each spine, a decision had to me made. Garage sale, pass along to mother or daughter or friend, bring along or store. It felt like bits of me. Bits of my history. I have always loved being surrounded by them. Getting rid of them was like casting off my identity of who I was, who I am now and the ones I still had not gotten around to reading...who I might become.
I felt a panic rising in me. I like my books. I don't want to get rid of them. There must be a way I can take them with me. I know I can do the e-book thing, but it's not the same. That is not visual. I like the look of books on a shelf or in a case or stacked up next to the bed. If ever I am bored or lonely or sad or depressed, there is always a book that can come to my rescue. I was parting with my life lines - it felt that wretched. I was weepy, angry, confused. I sorted through them in a sort of Neptunian fog. The room lighting was poor since I sold off 2 of my lamps and I was struggling with seeing the labels on the sea of boxes surrounding me.
There were some that had had such a major impact on my life that there was no way they were going anywhere but into the "store" box. My first hard-cover book purchase, still with me to this day, The Prophet by Kahil Gabran. I bought it in London, Ontario when I was 18 at an independent little bookshop there. Looking back, it was likely one of the first steps I took on my spiritual journey. A spiritual journey that I have been on my entire life. One that I will likely always be on since it's not likely I will be any more successful than the next guy at figuring it "all" out. My collection of Rilke poetry. Nope, that was not going to any garage sale and being sold off for a quarter. Nor my Rumi collections. Or A Fine Balance, or Eat Pray Love, signed books. Any books that I knew were stained with my own tears - essentially that became the criteria. James Hollis, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer. These guys have been in the trenches with me. How could I callously toss them into a box with Golf tips for Women? No way. They deserved a better fate than that. So I reduced the most meaningful volumes into 2 boxes. The "Deb KEEP" boxes, where they will sit in a basement for an undetermined period of time until they are one day resurrected from the darkness.
This morning, that road block behind me, fresh with a restorative night's rest, I will start my engine again and put her in gear and see what today will bring. If I had to guess, I would say I am only about one third of the way down this road. The trick is to keep moving forward, rearview glimpses to a minimum, crank up the tunes, put a good coffee in the cupholder...and drive.