When I was really young, there was nothing I loved more than secluding myself away in the large walk-in cupboard (bizarrely) located behind our little downstairs toilet. I’d sit up on the top on my Dad’s paint-encrusted wooden ladder that leaned against the wall, and pick one of the many books on the shelf to have a browse through. The room was crammed full, but in an organised fashion. I’d always discover something new when I went in for a look.
I’ve always just loved stuff. Being surrounded by bits and bobs, books, ornaments, stuff. As a result i’ve always kind of hoarded things I like (mainly books!), but in general I just seem to have multiple everything. Bikes, books, kitchen stuff, toiletries, knick-knacks. You name it, i’m likely to have more than one of anything that a regular household contains. One of each is never quite satisfactory. For a long time, it felt as though all these things, these tangible objects were what construed a life. To have a fulfilling life, you need to have things in it. Except actually that’s bullshit. When I lived in Australia for a year, I ended up living in Perth for almost twelve months. Initially I didn’t intend to stay there that long, so I didn’t accrue much. I lived in a little A-frame cabin at Jandakot Airport, totally open plan (except the bathroom. No cupboards behind it either!), with a couple of chairs to sit on, a large table, a small TV and a small kitchen with a hob and an oven. I bought a DVD player and some films to watch, and of course accumulated a few books, but even then i’d take what i’d read to the charity shop. When I left, I gave away the DVD player & films to a friend, took the remaining books to the charity shop (there were about 20 I think? Bugger all for me!) and that was it. I’d lived a year without anything else (just stuff for flying which I was doing out there), and survived.
So why is it now I feel as though I can’t survive without a fat crammed to the brim? I think for me if I ever felt lonely or maybe a bit bored and I wasn’t sure what to do, i’d buy something to make myself feel better. I’ve not really done that for a while now – most of money goes on holidays these days – but i’m still overwhelmed with everything that surrounds me. I’ve held on to it for so long because it felt like such a waste to get rid of it. A waste of all the money spent on it. A waste of time spent clearing everything out. But most of all what’s a bit scary about getting rid of stuff is a realisation that you’re not the same person you once were, and that everything you thought defined you somehow doesn’t have the same influence over your life. If I get rid of a lot of what has defined me, then who will I be?? Actually that’s the exciting bit – I get to be whoever I want to be, and I don’t need to define my future by the past i’ve been living. More to the point, how can I live the life I want to when I feel dragged back by the past?
So now it’s time to get rid of the past and look towards a clutter-free future. I recently read a fantastic book by Marie Kondo called Spark Joy. Marie is somewhat of a tidying guru, and essentially her idea is that you only surround yourself by the possessions that really spark joy in your life, the stuff that makes you truly happy. As I read the book I realised I could get rid of nearly everything I own and be okay. Obviously i’m not going to go quite that far, but i’ve booked some time off after Easter to really de-clutter my life. I’ve already started doing a challenge in March where you get rid of one thing on the 1st, two things on the 2nd, and so on, finally purging 31 items on the last day of the month. In the end i’ll have recycled/charity shopped 496 items! Insane. I’ve already gotten rid of 21 items, and i’ve barely made a dent. Day 7 & 8’s rejects are already lined up to go too. It’s so cathartic. The scary thing is, the thought of being able to identify 496 things in my flat to throw out is actually quite easy. More frightening is the fact there will still be a lot to sort.
I’ve taken photos of my flat as it is now, and i’ll do the same in a month so I can appreciate the difference.
Watch this (soon to be much more empty) space.