less is more

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"When packing up one's life, one thinks about stuff a lot," reads the first line I came up with for this blog post, and quickly erased in horror. So goes the process of all college students who torture themselves, hour upon endless hour, in quest of an completed essay worthy of at least a B minus. Mostly, this is how it goes as a writer. Start - anywhere. Revise, revise, revise. Contemplate the eternal mysteries of life. Continue. And so on.

Multiply by 2 for a more accurate estimate. Oh, and I'm not taking the treadmill though I probably should.

Unfortunately, this has also been true of my packing process. I'm like 85% done, which is great, because I move in one day. Yeah, is this real life? After planning out exactly what I need to pack, I finally just started with my clothes. When I finished with clothes, I realized I'm really bad at packing hangers. I then placed random hangers in random boxes because I effing hate hangers now. From there, it kind of went downhill.

Here at the tail-end, I'm at the point of hastily stashing all my odds-and-ends into the last of my boxes. I literally just taped up a box whose last item I stuffed was a blade-upward knife. That should be fun to unpack, right? All of my stuff is, for the most part, neatly organized, but on these last items I honestly want to throw them all in Hefty bags, a la Angelina on the first season of Jersey Shore. If that's good enough for the Kim Kardashian of Staten Island, then it's good enough for me!

Or, I could just not bring any of it. 

Things like, beach towels, and scrapbook crafts, and desk supplies when I don't even know if I can fit my nonexistent desk into my new room. Things that you don't really need, but kind of need. Things that if I left them, I would at some future point of time probably make my poor parents pack up and mail me. "Momma, I really need purple acrylic paint and that Pilates DVD. Don't ask, just send them. SOON."

So this is my problem. My other ones, including 3-4 separate boxes for my linens. I'm kind of a princess about my bed. Also, too many books for my bookcase, most of which I can't be parted with. 

Pretty bad example of what I just said, actually. Except for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I need something until I buy toilet paper. 

That is box one of two reasonably sized boxes, and this is nothing less than an achievement. I spent a lot of time ruthlessly going through the ridiculous amount of books I own, sorting piles into I Really Love This Book, I Really Love This Book A Little Less, I Really Love This Book A Lot But Still Less Than These Ones. It almost felt like what I imagine choosing between your many children feels like. But my Hoarder's mentality eventually shifted to that of an NFL scout leading up to the draft, and I feel confident that I'm bringing my best and most profitable? to Chicago. Best, as in, the literature that I actually like and periodically reread. And Discworld books. Obviously.

All of this has made me think about 'stuff' a lot, though. What if I did just throw away all my stuff? Well, not all of it. Everybody needs 'stuff'. But what if I threw away most of my stuff? When searching for a place to live on Craigslist (I know, I know, but I am becoming a Craigslist convert, people. A job, a nice place to live, and no murderers. Three for three, friends.), I came across a woman who had done just that. She was seeking someone to share her studio, or as she called it, her "living and breathing space that we can share". Someone to literally sleep on a cushion on the opposite corner, and join her in daily meditation. No television because it rots the mind. Nothing on the walls except a Buddha quote. Minimalism.

Then I came across this guy, who is also in on this minimalist business. His blog offers a little more explanation although none is really needed - he owns less than a hundred things, including only four clothing outfits, virtually no bathroom products past the bare necessities (look for the bear necessities), and a singularly purposed bed.

Forgive me for my girly cop-out, but when I think of all the clothes/shoes/accessories I own and the sheer amount of bathroom products I have in comparison, I'm not sure I could hang. Honestly, though, I'm really inspired by these minimalist types and not because I hate packing - like many fortunate people in the world, I have the luxury of having too many things.

Because when it comes down to it, I don't really own anything. I have some 'prized possessions' like everyone else - letters, journals, pictures, a few ordinary objects with very special meanings. But you can't ever own something that is truly important. Love, happiness, memories, relationships, joy. When you die you don't own any thing. So why is it so hard to leave behind books you've already read?

Of course it's all about how we put attachments to things. It's comfort and safety, and lets you know - hey, I own stuff, I'm not insignificant. I mean something. It's just humanity, and we're all existential Hamlets whether we like it or not. I want to have less things, and I plan on doing something about it. Donating, for one. I like the minimalists. I like the idea of being able to just leave some place and leave nothing behind, or put all my possessions in a bag and just go somewhere. And it's not just that freedom. It's having room for your self and for your thoughts. 

In fact, I'm just going to give everything up. Clothes too. Nothing. Not even my own name. Okay, only joking of course, but I don't want you thinking that tomorrow I'll be living on air and happiness like I'm the newest nudist at Burning Man. I'm only inspired, as always :).  I'm probably one step (mentally) away from this though.

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