Growing up, our house was always clean. Always. Mom was a firm believer in "cleanliness is next to godliness" or something. We could make all the mess of strewn toys we wanted throughout the day, but at the end of the day it had to be cleaned up and put away. Properly. None of this stuffing shit under the bed or kicking it in the closet. No sir. There was a place for everything, and everything better be in its place.
Now, my mom was not nasty, or abusive, or all drill-sargeanty about it. She even allowed us to make fun of her a little for CLEANING THE HOUSE THE NIGHT BEFORE THE MAID SERVICE CAME. Who does that shit? My mom. She just taught us to keep things clean, and not just on the surface. Surface clean was for every day. Thursdays? That's when the real cleaning happened (unless it was during the time period when she had a maid service come in on Thursdays, which meant that Wednesday became the day that the real housecleaning got done). I digress. The point is that my mom taught us good things, and admitted that sometimes, she was anal/OCD/extreme about some of them.
Dad was a firefighter, Mom was a SAHM. We always had enough (and then some), but we also took advantage of having such a large extended family. We wore a lot of hand-me-down clothing (we also got new clothes at the start of every school year, at Christmas, etc), and we passed on a lot of clothing when we outgrew it. All this handing down and passing around of clothing meant that we did several closet purges each year. These closet purges extended throughout the house.
The long and short of this reminiscing about my mom is that we never had a shortage of storage space, and the house was always clean.
In many ways, I am much like my mother. I can't stand clutter. I also can't stand a dirty house, although I am not as extreme as she is. See, I don't care which way the lines in the carpet run after I vacuum; my mom not only wants straight-line-vacuuming, she has a specific direction those lines must go in each part of the house.
I think my constant purges are a result of my family life. There is no denying that our childhoods shape us forever. I'm glad my mom tried to shape me well. It isn't her fault that addiction took years from me. It is to her credit that I have some values again now that I am in recovery.
Those values are in evidence when I purge my closet, or gripe at Sunshine for leaving teeshirts stuffed in the couch. Those values are definitely in evidence when Sunshine's stuffs and things start taking over the magic bus. Those values are evident when I am saying "I need to vacuum the floor" and Sunshine is saying "the floor is OK".
However, I am also different from my mom. Throughout the years, my mom started collecting eggs and Snowbabies. This is where we begin to differ. I don't collect much. I have a number of giraffes, but most of them are carefully stored. I have a number of clothes and shoes, but I am constantly getting rid of the old ones to make way for the new. Somehow, I didn't develop a sentimental attachment to photos and stuffs and things that help people preserve memories and keep them fresh. I have one shoebox filled with mementos and pictures.
I stumbled across something recently that has me on the verge of getting rid of even that box. I found my way to The Minimalists web site and was transfixed. I was fascinated. I found their lifestyle so enticing, so hauntingly beautiful. You should go check it out. Even if you aren't attracted to their extreme version of minimalism, (and there are others who are even more extreme), they'll probably make you think about things a bit differently. Read their essay on Tyler Durden of Fight Club fame. It's eye opening, and has me wanting to download the movie so I can watch it again and again. (Some asshat STOLE my two disc special edition of the movie and I have yet to find a replacement. I quit looking.)
Living with Sunshine, and all his stuffs and things, I doubt very seriously I'll ever get my home to look like one of The Minimalists, but I can certainly get my magic bus closer to this ideal than it is now. There is such beauty in this kind of simplicity, and even if Sunshine doesn't choose it for himself, I can still live it for me.
I have often talked about how we are doing more with less, but some of the things I read yesterday made me realize how full of shit I am.
I still have attachments to lots of superfluous things. I still fall into that trap laid by ad-men that tells me I might need this thing, or I might not look 'cool' enough if I eliminate some of my overstock of clothes and shoes. I still have fears and these fears cause me to hold on to stuffs and things.
In some ways, I blame my dear Aunt Becky for this new journey. I talked about simplifying my life for a possible future post for her Life on the Frugal Side site. Somehow, that dear Aunt Becky of mine seems to be a catalyst for some of the most beautiful things in my life (like The Band, and helping me get OK with a rambling thought process, and being OK with not being able to find my pants). It was through some brief google-fingering I was doing for that possible future post that I came across minimalism.
So, folks, today I announce my intention to begin a journey toward minimalism. Today, I begin to really look at each and every thing I own, and start getting rid of the ones that do not enrich my life. Today, I begin to clear up space in my home and my mind. Today, I renounce my attachment to material things and start to get rid of them. Today, I take what my mama taught me and try and take it to a new level. I may not ever reach the level that The Minimalists have inspired me with, but I believe that it is a process, and that we strive for growth--not perfection.
I'll keep you posted on how it goes. It's going to be interesting. It's going to call on all of the spiritual principles I have learned in recovery, because it is going to have me really examining myself in depth. It is going to have me questioning all that secret fear that still hides deep inside, and hopefully I can walk through that fear.
Today, I begin to face the clutter, and the clutter is me.