In this post, Joshua Becker draws our attention to the growing body of statistics regarding our accumulation of stuff. Can you believe that “there are 300,000 items in the average American home”? At first that number shocked me, until I thought about my own home, the books, the craft items, the collections, the hardware supplies … no, it’s not surprising.
Having recently been helping my mother-in-law downsize her home, I am all too conscious of the number of items that can accumulate over a period of years, and remain for various reasons. Months into downsizing, the valuable and the useful has been given or repurposed, and this weekend hopefully much of the rest, the detritus of years, will be sold at a garage sale. And even then, there will be more to be collected by a charity. And this from a couple who downsized first from the family home 16 years ago, and who considered themselves frugal, organised and rarely enticed by the latest and greatest!
Dealing with that stuff has helped me to see material possessions differently. This morning I walked around a department store, looking for a new heater. Who buys all this stuff? Brides-to-be? Gift-givers? Mostly people like me, I’m guessing, who don’t need it, but like it, who have too much disposable income, and who find it convenient to forget their mortgage momentarily in favour of the pleasure of owning something new.
Which brings me back to where we are. Living in a house with too much stuff. This year, I’m using Rachel’s chart to tally my efforts of decluttering 2015 items in 2015. Each item (or group of items) decluttered earns a square crossed out. It’s the middle of May, but I’ve only decluttered about 650 items. A hundred of them were just this week. I’ve got a long way to go. Each part of the house has had one or more passes over it, the real junk has gone. I feel a sense of achievement as I tick off each square on the chart. But now things get harder. What do I like but not need? What can I voluntarily give up to make space?
Because I’ve realised that space is what I crave the most. Clear, empty, open, full-of-promise space.
That, and time not spent organising and decluttering. Freedom to invite someone over on a whim. Space for playing and creating. Headspace for for more meaningful pursuits and what I really believe in. Time to go out without feeling like I should be at home, decluttering.
I’d love to finish the 2015 challenge, and more. Because I can’t help feeling that a better life is waiting beyond.
Photo taken on our recent holiday at Lake Wallis, one of my favourite spots in the world, because of the open space and the stillness.
Edited to add: after writing this post I decluttered 82 unnecessary items from our garden shed! Woohoo!