Moving Towards Minimalism

It's difficult to let go of things. 

You've probably noticed this if you've ever moved, decluttered or had to deal with decommissioning an estate. Objects and items retain deep emotional attachments even when their functional value has long passed. How many of us still have boxes from our last move waiting to be unpacked? 

I am fascinated by the concept of minimalism - reducing the objects you own to a bare minimum. Minimalism means different things to different people but what do we really need to live a rich and fulfilling life? It will vary depending upon your concept of what constitutes a rich and fulfilling life. I know that I would need my music gear but do I really need more than one guitar? I currently have five guitars plus a mandolin, fiddle, a set of bagpipes, small pipes, electronic bagpipe chanter, a recorder, tin whistle, kazoo and juice harp. Most of them I never play but in the back of my mind I think that maybe someday I'll work them into the show. Maybe someday can also mean maybe never. Our capacity for self deceit is unlimited. 

With time, we accumulate more things and the sorting through these things becomes difficult and time consuming. Objects that have laid dormant and unconsidered for decades trigger buried memories. We hesitate to let go of the object perhaps because we fear we will discard the memory as well. The process moves slowly and very few items are re-purposed or discarded. Is there a better way? 

Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo suggests working through categories of things from clothing to books to paper to miscellaneous items and saving personal memorabilia for last. Sorting by location just gets us bogged down in the memorabilia. Each item is considered with the decision to keep only objects that immediately "spark joy". If objects spur a happy memory, retain the memory, be grateful for the object's role in that memory, but let it go. Memorabilia is left to the last so you can exercise your perception of joy before getting to the items that are often most difficult to discard. 

A good example is plaques. The very fact we use the same word to describe the sticky deposit we pay a hygienist to scrape off our teeth should spur us to question why we let a commemorative plaque stick around as well. We can recall the pleasure of recognition or achievement that the plaque represents but do we really need the object to do that? 

Discarding the detritus accumulated over a lifetime is difficult and time consuming but we owe it to those who come after us to do it while we are still able. I'm nowhere near where I want to be in terms of sifting through my own collection of objects and mementos but I can envision a clean, uncluttered space that will allow me to be fully creative. A place from where I can craft a future unburdened by the past.

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