I have to admit it – I’m afraid of my stuff. Anyone who’s ever moved knows what I’m talking about. It’s the stuff on the laundry room shelf that you swear you’ve never seen before. It’s the stuff at the bottom of the kitchen drawer that may or may not have once been edible. I find this kind of stuff so frightening that I avoid it at all costs.
Four years ago we moved and it ended a particularly long spell of avoidance. As I purged the obvious (4 year old ramen) and less obvious (14 year old light bulbs), I became more and more nervous about the “bigger” house we were moving into. Wouldn’t this mean more drawers (Is that a smartie?) and more top shelves (I haven’t seen these gouchos for years!) and a bigger garage (Really, what is this?). And since we didn’t plan on moving ever again, what could possibly deliver me from the stuff that would lurk there?
Fortunately two months after we moved our stuff into the bigger house, our second son arrived wiping these questions (and more) from my mind indefinitely. Well, that son turned four years old this month and although I’m certain I own enough birthday candles for a centenarian, I couldn’t find 4 for the top of his cake. And that’s when I realized they were probably rolling around in the bottom of a drawer somewhere.
That scared me. I had tried to keep it under control but here was my stuff hiding my other stuff hiding in a drawer! I avoided these icky feelings by browsing minimalist blogs and admiring this man’s 288 things and that man’s 100 things. It all seemed so wonderful and so unattainable.
I realized I will never have only 100 things (or even 288 things for that matter) but I can get rid of 100 things pretty easily. So, I tried it. I didn’t set aside a whole day or even half a day. I didn’t plan to clean out a certain room, drawer or closet. I looked around and said: “I think this can go.” And it felt good. It was even kind of fun.
I wondered how it would feel to keep going. Would I run out of stuff? (Not likely, considering I tossed 100 things from just one kitchen junk drawer the other day.) Would I have to make some hard decisions? Probably, depending how long I keep it up for. Would I feel better and better the more stuff I liberated?
It’s day 4. I’ve tossed, recycled and donated 400 things. I’m already feeling more comfortable in my space and less intimidated by the things that scurry in when I’m not looking. I’ve decided to challenge myself to getting rid of 100 things for 100 days. There are only two rules: 1) the 100 things have to be things I wouldn’t normally throw out (ie. no gum wrappers or everyday recycling) and 2) The 100 days do not have to be consecutive (it’s supposed to be fun!) but they should be continuous enough to keep the momentum going.
And while I’m at it I will try to keep track of my progress here – if only to prove (or disprove as the case may be) that there is a minimalism for the rest of us.