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Going Minimal in 2013

I generally don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions since I always seem to forget them by January 6, but one resolution that’s been stuck in my brain these past few months is the urge to purge my house of all the stuff.

I’ve been reading about this new minimalist movement that’s been gaining traction and  it has got my attention.  (Here’s a humorous strategy for how to get started.)

I crave more of a minimalist living space, the kind of house where you can look into any corner and not see stuff, where furniture is pulled away from the walls and there’s nothing but white space between wall and couch. As it is, both Jake and I are suffocating on things, clutter, junk and old books — stuff that doesn’t mean anything to either of us.

I’ve tried deep purges in the past but I always seem to cling to same old things — shoes, handbags, appliances, clothes from the 90s, utensils from the 80s, 50 empty picture frames, all those piles of books. I hold onto all this stuff out of a misplaced sense of sentimentality, a “what if” sense of what I think my life might turn into in the next twelve months. And the thought of giving away all those books feels like giving away knowledge.

But I think I’m finally ready. I look forward to letting go of all the belongings that have been weighing me down, both spatially and spiritually. A deep purge means accepting the reality of what my life is, not what I want it to be or an attempt to hold onto what it was. It represents a willingness to live more in the present.

As I prepare for this deep purge — I’ve already started gathering boxes of things to toss around the house —  I can’t help but wonder if the impetus behind it is actually a desire to redecorate — wanting to get rid of old crap to make way for new crap. But I know that in five years time I’ll find myself in the exact same position I find myself now: encumbered, buried by things, suffocating.  I want to let go of objects powerful hold over me. I want to stop consuming.

A secondary part of my plan is to cease buying anything new for myself for six months. No new shoes, clothes or objects for the home for half a year. Can I do that? Obviously, I draw the line at essentials:  food, toiletries and absolutely necessary items for work (which includes a very major purchase of a new computer and Photoshop — I gotta make money!) and entertainment (plays, movies, restaurants). To help ease the transition, I will allow myself to buy a few things that are used (did I mention I’m addicted to thrifting?).  If I don’t shrivel up and die by the end of five months, I’d like to go whole hog and cease buying anything at all for the remainder of the year. If I can’t do it, I will be the first one to admit defeat.

I wonder how I’ll feel after the end of this period. Will I feel any better about myself? Lighter? Less encumbered? Wealthier? Or will I just feel cheap and bored and ascetic? To not consume practically feels un-American. Who am I if I don’t buy? What will I do if I don’t go into shops on the weekend? This is the question I hope to answer. Maybe I won’t feel anything. Maybe I’ll feel exactly the same only with a few less pairs of shoes.

So beginning January 1, I’m on a consumption diet. Gah! And here I just said I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. I’ll be updating regularly on my progress.

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Jessie blogs at Rurally Screwed. Check out her books Rurally Screwed and Tart & Sweet

 

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