A minimal challenge…
September 13, 2011, 12:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” – Henry David Thoreau

I thought it might happen before it actually did happen and I was right. Drats! I was too rushed and too careless. Now I stood staring down at chunks of broken ceramic on my kitchen floor. The smashed pieces were painted the color of watermelon, inside and out. Uplifting words, painted swirls and poke-a-dots decorated the shards at my feet. I had knocked over my hand-painted mug while trying to clear a space in front of the microwave to heat my dinner. Normally I don’t get sentimental about a drinking glass (I’ve broken many, which is why we only own three at this point), but this one was different. I made it alongside my best friends in our last year of college in 2007. I carefully lettered the above quote along the side, hoping every reading of it would be a reminder to do just that. It traveled with me to Costa Rica, offering me material reassurance of a life back home as I drank my coffee every morning. It never even had a close call in that year. My host family regarded it with a sort of playful honor, carefully placing it back in the cupboard after washing the dishes, mentioning the importance of its journey. They laughed about it’s hugeness (I ate soup in it, too) and always made sure it was on the table at our meals. I took the same care with it on my own up until this clumsy point. And now it is gone, at four years old, because I pushed all my dishes sloppily to the side in a hungry rush.

I have a new mug I use and it’s great, but it doesn’t have nearly the emotional power of that mug, if a mug can have emotional power. We do assign inanimate objects some importance and power in our lives, even if we do so at an unconscious level. They can be positive or maybe even negative. A chair in our home is not quite the same chair in a different home. An old picture frame becomes a relic because it was given by a special person.

To keep our lives more ordered and simple, we have to choose what to keep and what to let go of. We decide what holds meaning and power for us and what will lift us up. Think of the reorganization of a cluttered area. Tossing or donating junk and opening space leads to more breathing room for ourselves. Feng Shui. It’s an art form. There is tons of literature out there and evidence of its benefits.

My fascination with hoarders is that they have the inability to let go and they deeply connect objects with their thoughts and emotions. These TV episodes obviously show extreme cases of how we empower objects over the well-being of our own minds or spirits. Obviously, all don’t have material issues to this extent, but we could learn a thing or two from their hard lessons.

In the next few weeks, I’m taking a good look at all my “things” and seeing what I can live without. I want to hold onto what I need, what I use and what I love. Nothing else. This sort of thinking is not very easy… but it is very simple. Let’s see what I clean out!

Looking forward to the challenge of whittling down my possessions, perhaps not as much as Dave, the brilliant man behind the 100 item challenge, but we’ll see how much space I can create.

Stuff stories, please! Happy simplifying  🙂


3 Comments so far
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For a long time I held on to various medals and paper certificates that I received since I was in elementary school. Each year I would go and rummage through my box of accomplishments until one year I just had a revelation. I held on to all these artifacts to remind myself of what I did but it was all in the past. I had not added anything new to the pile. That box actually began to hold me back and make be feel bad about myself because I had not added anything new. To make a long story short, I moved into a new apartment and had no room for the things I just didn’t need. I sometimes miss those paper certificates and medals but realized that I didn’t need to remind myself of dreams and goals already accomplished. I’m establishing new dreams and need to get on living those. My lesson learned, learn from the past but don’t keep living in it. Get on living now.

Comment by Lea

I’m so sorry your mug broke. I know how much you liked it. R.I.P beautiful painted mug.

I still have a picture I made in 2nd grade Art class. We used bleach and q-tips to sort of dye the paper. I hold onto it for a few reasons. One, I’m strangely fascinated by the fact that we used bleach so freely in school. I also think I did a pretty doggone good job with the snow scene. I mean, I was only 6. Or however old you are in 2nd grade. Hmmmm, I have a leprechaun I made when I was in 4th grade. I guess I could get rid of her. She’s sort of creepy now and I’m not comfortable having her in my house. You know how those sort of things come alive at night.

Comment by Strawberry

haha! I was rummaging through a lot today… getting rid of two broken coffee makers. My mug actually broke months ago, but just thinking about it (among other things) got me on a cleaning kick. You’re funny!!!

Comment by simplyenjoy

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