If I had to look at our possessions in the blink of an eye and only take what was important, it would be us, the cat, and our insurance papers. Everything else is replaceable. So with that in mind, I decided to evaluate everything in the house.
Our cat, "Muesli"
The process has been a sobering experience and not at all like what I was expecting. I'm not a hoarder, nor am I particularly precious about material items, yet when I asked what I would specifically rescue from a bush fire, I became quite agitated. I spent several days procrastinating, in an attempt to avoid those feelings. I thought I was overwhelmed by the size of the task, so narrowed the process down to the small home office instead.
It soon occurred to me, I would have to invade other parts of the house to accomplish this simple task. The bookcase I wanted to rearrange, had a messy kitty-litter tray nearby. I needed to find a new home for the tray - somewhere that wouldn't mind collecting dust from the litter. I removed a laundry basket from an out of the way corner, and placed it in the middle of the room - for want of finding a suitable place for it (yet) and the litter tray took its place.
Temporary home for the laundry
~stuff for thrift-shop in background
When I finally got to tackling the bookcase, I came across documents and pamphlets that were now redundant. I cleared an entire paper organiser worth of it. There was a stack of pamphlets from initial research on our retaining walls. Very handy when they were needed, but we had finished that particular project in 2010. There were also some old journals of mine too, but the ponderings I read about were mostly resolved now. I had to wonder why I was still storing them? In a bushfire, they could burn and I wouldn't miss them.
Another gift for the thrift-store
And that was the biggest revelation of all I think...how did my space become so full of redundant material? Time was incredibly precious in the present, with kids, marriage and relevant work to complete today, and I was spending large blocks of time, dealing with material which had no purpose beyond marking the past. I even had to sort the shoes growing mould for lack of use, and these were items we used in the present - or didn't use, to be more accurate.
Shoe tree sorted
Most people engage in simplifying their lives to be happier - and I guess that's the end result. But the process involves embracing a lot of discomfort first. It's not a lot of fun, going through your possessions and finding a lot of idleness and redundancy in them. A lot of what I stored for "later", really just accumulated as a talisman for later. Even if I had all the time in the world, I still probably couldn't get around to using it all.
That's because the human imagination is limitless, but our ability to work dreams into being, is not.
After my brief foray into chaos recently, I managed to clear one cupboard completely. Now I can place my hands on everything needed in the office, because it's simpler, smaller and relevant to now. There is still some organising to do, but I've made a considerable start.
Bookcase now holds gear from cupboard next door
with a shelf to spare!
I'm looking forward to approaching the rest of the house with my new friend, "discomfort". It needs to stay for a little while longer, to make our spaces less cluttered with ideas, and more useful for doing things. It's not the easiest task I've set myself, but its extremely worthwhile to pursue this year.
So if I seem to go AWOL from blogging, you'll know why. I will update as time permits.