This morning I walked around my home with new eyes. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Every single thing seemed to stand out. The dish soap, the dish soap dispenser, the dish sponges, the dish rack, the dishes, the glasses, the small glasses, the big cups, the little cups, the utensils, the chef knives, the paring knife, the watermelon knife, the knife sharpeners, the sink cleaner, the scrub brushes, the recycling can, the trash can, the recycling bags, the trash bags, the broom, the dustpan, the dustpan’s brush, the, the, the — the list goes on & on in great detail. The reason I see my home in far greater detail than ever before, is because I am moving soon. I’m moving into an Airstream Argosy (see last week’s blog post). Everything in my life will become tiny and minimalist. I’ll have a tinsy tiny closet, a tiny sink, a tiny shower, a tiny everything. And in this tiny space, every thing matters. Everything is important, and only what is cherished most will have its designated space.
Throughout the day my wardrobe was rolling through my mind; plaid blazers with velvet elbow patches, flowing skirts that I only wear once or twice a year, shoes saved for special occasions — there will be no room for such things. But how can I give them up? They were a financial investment that I wouldn’t want to make again. How will I know what to take and what to leave behind? I’m moving to such a small home, I feel like I must get rid of everything. The feeling is overwhelming. It’s not just an editing of my wardrobe, kitchen, workshop, or entire home — it’s an editing of my life. It’s a severing of my past. It’s a sobering realization of what is important, what is essential.
I may not know what to keep and what to get rid of at this moment, but I am clear about one thing. Without a doubt, and with all certainty, I can tell you about the happiest time of my life. It’s a very simple & direct answer: It was camping alone in the Bahamas for a month (it might have been longer) in 1999. And the other times that run a close second were also camping trips alone. While on these trips, I was only able to bring what I could comfortably carry. So I always packed with the understanding that I would be carrying most of my things while walking distances, flying in planes, taking trains and hailing cabs. Having only the essentials, and bringing everything down to the minimum, was bliss. So refreshing, so sobering. I was able to see my life clearly, and see myself clearly. It was just me, and the things that I most wanted with me.
If the happiest times of my life where when I had next to nothing, and lived alone in a small vinyl tent… why is it so hard to pare things down, to minimize my life, and move on? It’s a good question. My guess is that this time, it’s for real. I won’t be returning to my things, or to my former life. But again, I have to look at the fact that I was most happy with very-very little, away from an overstuffed home and an overstuffed social calender. Without those things, I felt better than ever, I slept better than ever… and I was happy. Not one of the things that I am wondering and stressing about whether or not to keep has brought me lasting happiness. Not one.
So what is there to fear? The fear of the unknown? The fear of re-buying stuff? The fear of a new experience? The fear of letting go? The fear of starting over? So what! And what is not doing those things costing me? It’s comical. It really is.
The risk & the cost of not living fully & freely is far greater than any bold decision to simplify one’s life and move on from the past. How can one not benefit from a little refining & rewilding?
What would be a wild choice for you? What would your life look like if you edited it and refined it to the bare essentials — essentials that you loved? What would it look like? What would it feel like? What would you look & feel like? Doesn’t it sound like something that deserves a little exploring? For me, without a question, it does. And no matter what fog or fears creep in my mind, I’ll remember that my heart is leading the way. It knows what I love and what I need. It knows me best.