Living With Less

I have again neglected this blog because I have been, for the first few months of the year, getting rid of clutter – working through the pile of old magazines and removing the few useful pages from each and so on. Once this was done I have then moved home, to somewhere smaller, much smaller it seems.

I am not complaining though, this is a good thing.  I wanted less clutter, I wanted separate storage for tools and so on, I wanted a kitchen that wasn’t in the living room and had more cupboards and I have all that so in real terms I have more actual storage space but only for the things I really need and, or want to keep.  In effect it’s more efficient storage in that everything’s accessible rather than packed into one cupboard or stacked up behind my sofa – as my toolboxes were before.

The old apartment, being two large open rooms with a bathroom between the two felt like living in an open-plan office with everything on display, not very tidy and not very homely but now the living room is a living room, the bedroom a bedroom and the kitchen is the office too and is where I am now, typing this and listening to the TV in the other room.

It’s amazing how many things that you previously couldn’t possibly let go of suddenly become very disposable when you don’t have anywhere to put them.  Having less space for clutter is a filter that brings into clear focus what is important, and whether stuff from your past really has any significance today.  I’ve looked at things like diaries containing logs of changes I made to software when I was an amateur coder in the nineties and I think “why do I need to keep this, does it hold some kind of special memory?  Bin it”.  So much stuff is kept because perhaps we feel the need to hold onto the past, like we’ll forget it but I’ve found that the things I’ve got rid of don’t define me now and are things I don’t really need to remember the details of, much of what I’ve done years ago means very little now.  I don’t need proof of much of the stuff I’ve done in the past and this process has helped me to realise just which things I do want the souvenirs of and which ones I don’t.

My parents have kindly taken half a tonne of stuff to the charity shops of my old home town including a box of Christmas decorations for a large tree that I didn’t even have space to put up in my old apartment any more, never mind the new one.

It’s so easy to hold on to things, assuming they may have some future significance, or that they’ll be a source of reminiscence, but the truth is often that they won’t and having that big clear out leaves you with what is significant and holds memories that are worth keeping.  It feels cathartic to do this and having less clutter, a tidier home to look at, feels good too.

Of course, had I done this earlier there wouldn’t have been a little bit less to move.