010 Too much stuff

010 Too much stuff

After a winter of purchasing to overcome depression, I feel stuffed. There are too many things in my life: too many objects, too many responsibilities, too much of a lot. A few weeks ago, I decided that enough is enough, and started taking out everything we own to see what still adds value, what we need, and what gets in the way.

I started my journey into minimalism when we were still living in Los Angeles. And then, we suddenly had to move. I started nesting. What if I can’t get this in New Zealand and I need it again? What if this item is expensive there?

Once things had settled in New Zealand, I did my first real declutter. I took out every single item we owned Marie-Kondo style, and discarded most of it.

And then, we suddenly had to move (yes, again, it’s a long story of visas and lawyers). With only a few weeks to plan a journey to the other end of the world (literally!), I packed almost everything without evaluating it.

Since then, the pandemic, depression, and unhappiness have added more. But enough is enough. If I want to live a meaningful life in balance with nature, all this stuff gets in the way. Stuffocated. I don’t know where I heard the term but it feels appropriate.

I started slowly by making the kitchen usable, building a few shelves, and cleaning. But there was still so much stuff. When we moved here, we downsized significantly, and every nook and cranny was stuffed with things.

I struggled with my self-assigned labels of being a minimalist, environmentalist, and activist. I barely wrote, barely released videos for Making Waves, and spent more money on Amazon than groceries. I felt like a hypocrite which brought me further into the downward spiral.

Thankfully, I was able to take the summer off to focus on sorting my life. Five months between studies to focus on my videos, writing, and sorting through the chaos. Two of those months are now over, and I’ve done a lot.

When I took every single item in my room off the shelves and out of the drawers, I was shocked how much I still had–much of which I didn’t even know existed. Had I really slipped that far? Granted, my superfluous is still a lot less stuff than most people own. But I’ve long learned that this isn’t about other people. There is no magic number of items to own. Even your own magic number will fluctuate. What adds value today might not add value tomorrow. And that’s okay.

We need to stop thinking about our things in forever terms. Discarding an item doesn’t mean you’ll never do that activity again. It means, you are letting it go for now. Some activities will find their way back into your life later. You might have to purchase some item again down the road. It costs you more to keep them just in case.

Marie Kondo makes you ask if an item sparks joy. Joshua Fields Milbourne prefers to ask if an item adds value to his life. But the key thing is to evaluate every item not from a lens of what society expects but your own circumstances. No one will care if you own a blender as long as the food you serve is still nourishing and fulfilling.

In a few years, I want to move onto a sailboat, see the world, and find a place to grow a homestead. It’s not a dream. It’s the direction I’m walking in, slowly aligning my life with where I want to be, who I want to be.

Right now, all the stuff gets in the way. So, one by one, I’m letting go of the excess.

The hardest items to let go are items that were expensive at some point or a lot of work. Last summer, I crocheted a top. It doesn’t sit right. It’s not perfect. But I made it. It took hours and hours of my time. Letting it go feels like discarding all that hard work.

But I already put in the work. I enjoyed making it, finishing it, even wearing it a few times. It has served all the purpose it can serve. At least, for me.

Every item in my room adds value to my life. Every. Single. Item. But most importantly, I know that it’s all just stuff. There is nothing in here I would not walk away from in an instance. I hold on to them loosely. Clinging is exhausting. I’ve been exhausted for too long.

Now, there is room for me to see the items I still own, to give everything a home, a place where it belongs. Even with the rest of the apartment still in absolute chaos, I feel calm when I enter my room.

I’m excited for the next few days of letting go of the excess in our other rooms, but mostly, I am excited to discover the items that still add value, the items that stay. Choosing what to keep is so much more important than choosing what to discard.

So long, and thanks for being here.