For me, the easy things to let go of are clothes and shoes. That may sound counter-intuitive for somebody who loves clothes, shoes, fashion, and style as much as I claim to. It isn't. I have many items in my wardrobe that were impulse purchases, things I bought just to alleviate the boredom or avoid the sads. There are also things that don't quite fit right. (hey, I've gained a few pounds since graduation, I'm getting over it.)
I sorted the clothes into three piles.
Pile one would be the "damn, that was expensive" pile. These garments will be going to a consignment shop in Dallas the first weekend in November while we are over there.
Pile two would be the "these are good clothes that somebody can use and enjoy but aren't worth the effort of transporting to the consignment shop" and are therefore going to be donated to a local not-for-profit that helps homeless families. This pile contains several pounds of costume jewelry; the kind of stuff that I never wore and couldn't figure out why I even bought it in the first place. There are also some shoes that don't meet my level of condition worthy of consignment but are actually still good shoes, meaning that there is a tiny scuff on the heel or something else almost un-noticeable. Also in this pile are some handbags that were bought just because I wanted something. There's nothing wrong with any of these items; they were just items that I don't use or wear.
The third pile is the stuff I am definitely keeping or think I will most likely wear. This pile contains all of those tried and true designer and upscale pieces that have been collected over time, and have proven themselves to me multifunctional in my wardrobe. These are the pieces that I love, that make me feel fabulous, that I have worn time and time again. these pieces mix and match with many other pieces in my wardrobe. These pieces are easy to wear and don't require much thought. These pieces are definitely keepers. This pile will be getting re-examined again over the next few months as the seasons do what pass for changes around here.
I spoke to Sunshine about what I was doing. I explained to him why the idea appealed to me. Many of the bloggers who write about their experiences with their minimalist lives talk about things like "living intentionally", "sustainability" (and other eco-minded catch-phrases), "simplicity", and other ideas that appeal to me. In some ways, Sunshine and I had already taken steps in this direction when we moved into an RV. Since moving in this magic bus, we have greatly pared down the number of possessions we have. (Well, in some ways. In other ways, well, let me just remind you that hunters can rationalize and justify the most astounding quantity of stuffs and things and leave it at that.) We've payed off debts, and are working to pay off more. I doubt that we will find much that tempts us to even consider taking on more debt in the future.
Sunshine suggested a book to me, one he thought might benefit me as I explored this minimalism concept. He said we would get me the book. We also discussed books. I love that he reads, I like to read. I don't want to take that joy from either of us, especially not him, since the stuff he reads seems to benefit him emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. However, even if I am not going to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, there is no way any more books will fit in this house. We discussed e-readers, and I do believe that Santa will be bringing him one for The Christmas. I had already requested a tablet computer, and believe that Santa might be bringing me one for The Christmas; a kindle app can easily be added to one of these devices. There is nothing wrong with reading; it is just the buying and hoarding of things that is a problem, especially in a magic bus. I'd go to the library far more often if we lived close to one. The nearest library is a half hour away, and in a town that I visit less than once every other month.
As we were talking, I told Sunshine that I knew that I would probably never see him strive for the levels of minimalism that some of these bloggers have attained. He agreed that he was not going to be paring down his hunting paraphernalia. At least these items have purpose, and they bring him great enjoyment. I'm hoping that I can at least find some acceptable storage solution to keep the hunting things stored in. As long as he can keep it and access it easily, I think he'll be all right.
I found a few other items that were obvious contenders for the donate pile. A print that was given to me by a person I never particularly cared for, something that I've been lugging around for years. We had hung it over the bathroom window after we removed the crappy, ugly miniblinds that I could no longer stand the sight of. Because I don't want the neighbors watching me make funny faces every time I have to go pee really bad, I dug out a stretched canvas, close-up photograph of a peacock feather feather that I got at one of those import stores. The peacock feather canvas is something that brings a smile to my face; the colors are beautiful--so rich, so saturated. I can't believe I had been hiding it between the driver's seat and door of the magic bus.
I also took a few giraffe figurines and packed them up for donation. They held no great meaning for me; they were bought in a fit of boredom and wanting. There are others packed away in storage that I want to look at. Some of those in storage may be brought into the house, or not. It depends, first and foremost, on whether or not they will fit in our little magic bus. They probably won't, so I will have to choose which (if any) have meaning and bring me joy.
What I am seeing in all of these essays that I am reading is that I don't have to renounce all material possessions. There are certain things that I need: a blanket to keep me warm, I need a knife to cut my food, I need some clothes to keep me from being nekkid, I need a pillow to support my neck when I sleep. We actually use our coffee pot, the blender, and the four dinner plates, salad plates, and cereal bowls we own. These things don't have to be eliminated. They have purpose. We didn't buy these things because some advertiser convinced us we could somehow be cooler if we owned them. We bought them because they actually filled a need in our daily lives.
Even the extreme minimalists will acknowledge that minimalism is not some set of rules written in stone. It is about stripping away the superfluous; learning to truly tell the difference between want and need; and stopping the ad-driven consumerist cycles of capitalism. There is nothing wrong with buying an item I need. If our coffee pot dies, it is OK to buy another.
So I have started a journey towards a more minimalist life. I will continue digging around for the obvious things that need to go. Those are the easy ones. I will start digitizing all of my photographs, I will start clearing out all of those scraps of paper I am keeping because they have addresses on them I need to keep (I got an address book program that will hold that information for me without sharing it with twitter, gmail, google+, and all of my email accounts), I will continue to "de-clutter".
I will either digitize all of my old backstage passes from my stagehand days or turn them into art of some sort. Either way, they are no longer going to take up space sitting in a box under my bed.
I have only begun this journey. I have no idea where it will take me, how far I will go down this path. I have no idea if I will become an extreme minimalist or more of an everyday minimalist. I just don't know. And that's ok. What I do know is that this will get me to examine my life, my fears, and my priorities. It will cause me to look at advertisements and marketing campaigns in a new light. It will change me, hopefully for the better.
I am feeling lighter already.