Something has shifted inside me, and I’m not sure where or when it did, but it happened, and I don’t think it’s shifting back. I’ve never felt this before, not even as a child (I've always been a clutcher—I wanted my THINGS. I understood impermanence and I hated it. I enjoyed feeling nostalgic for moments I was actively participating in. I still do that).
I’m seeing clutter for what it is, to me. And I want to make clear that this is all what it is to me. This is not what YOU should do. This isn’t what Lala should do. I don’t want to move Lala’s stuff (it was a requirement when we bought our house that we would both have an office), and I don’t even want to purge much of our shared stuff (there are a few things in the kitchen like old Tuppers-ware… but no, honestly, I’m focused on my stuff).
A lot of my stuff just isn’t important.
And it’s not that things have changed. That’s the really interesting part to me in this. Nothing I own has changed. I haven’t woken up and suddenly “seen the light" although it may look like that from the outside.
My stuff didn’t get less important overnight.
It’s just this: A great deal of my possessions have been unimportant for years. For decades, literally.
So many books, released. I thought because I loved them, because I’d learned from them, that I had to keep them. Nope. They’re already in me, and I don’t tend to reread. Gone.
So much yarn, released. It was collected thoughtlessly, with no plan, and over many years, it had never come in handy for even one single project I’d gone stash-diving for. Gone.
So many clothes, released. This was easier, because I learned through a couple of years of Project 333 that living with fewer, nicer clothes is magic. I’m better dressed, more fashionable, and more ME because of it.
So much junk, junked. It’s unreal how much stuff I’d held onto over the years.
That said, I’ve kept things. So many wonderful things, things that strike joy in my heart. The eye from my beloved teddy bear. The 11-year sobriety chip my friend Bob Cranford gave me when I quit smoking. My mother’s journals. My own. The quilt my grandmother knit me. The Love Blanket that you knit me. Lots of lots of wonderful stuff, kept.
This is how I’ve done it, for those wondering. These are the questions I ask of each item (seriously, I touch every one):
1. Do I use this regularly? (Not could I use this, or would I use this given the right circumstances. Just do I or don’t I.) If yes, keep. If no, move on to next question.
2. Does this spark joy? This is cribbed from Marie Kondo’s book, mentioned in the last post. Prior to reading her book, I was asking questions I could fudge my way around. Do I love this? Sure! I love everything! Does this make me happy? Of course! It’s a fountain pen! Fountain pens make me giddy! But this specific question, “Does this fountain pen you’re holding right now spark actual JOY in your heart?” It’s like flipping a coin. You know the answer when it’s in the air. “No, this fountain pen makes me think of the person who gave it to me, a person I don’t enjoy thinking of anymore.” And just like that. Dithering over selling the pen for years, decided easily in a heartbeat of finally asking the right question. If the answer is yes, keep. If no, donate, sell, or recycle.
And now that I think about it, now that I’m typing, I’ve figured out that this simple question about sparking joy has been the thing that made this quiet click happen within me. I do care for so many things. I’m prone to loving things and people and television shows and vegetables and just about anything that falls within my range of vision. That was my proble when it came to holding on to things.
But so many of my things, though they were nice and worthy of love, didn’t spark joy. I’m culling down to just the things that do, and one day, I’ll look around and have nothing near me that isn’t useful or brilliantly joyful (Lala! the animals! my spinning wheel! the pressed tin Madonna I bought in Venice!), and hoo boy, I can’t wait for that.
The whole process of simplifying, which just a week or two ago was overwhelming and tedious and really, really frightening, is now exciting and honestly FUN. I don’t need the other stuff.
I never have.
That is WILD, yo.
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