Recently I’ve been reading a lot on and offline about the minimalist movement. I’ve always been quite interested in the less is more principle of living. Well, I would be wouldn’t I, as a de-clutterer and organiser!
As one of “those types” of people, I strongly believe that life isn’t about how much stuff we have.
Basic rules of Our Stuff:
1. Our stuff should be useful or compliment our lives with beauty/quirkiness/interest.
2. Our stuff should never take over and be in control (i.e. dictate how big our house is so you can squeeze it all in).
3. All we need to know about our stuff is: what we have, why we kept it, and where we put it.
There are endless “minimalist” gurus online telling you how to shed your stuff. Lots of advice and a few key themes (with my own twist of course):
1. You have too much stuff. I know I do.
A few years ago I went on a world tour with a backpack. I can live very successfully out of the back of a car and did so for months and months. And no it wasn’t a hardship.
And I thought it was luxurious having a chair!
Bright, Australia, 2005
So why do I have a two bedroom house full of things? I didn’t miss my things when I was staying with friends in Ontario, camping (or sleeping in the car) in Brisbane or hosteling across the South Island of New Zealand. (Oh I have a house so my family and friends can visit and well I do need a place to call home for all the usual reasons!)
Sleeping in the car – Australia 2005, not a hardship just
a little more interesting and a little more cosy
Why was I sleeping in the car? My poor tent in the ice storm!
Late summer in Australia %-)
Poor tent after the storm 😦
2. Keeping useful things and beautiful and sentimental objects is great but they all need a place to stay so really think about it.
There are only so many lovely doodads you need to dust, only so many pictures fit on the walls and people aren’t the things they give you.
So yes to the bed and the coffee maker but seriously think about the cherry pitter. Maybe its got a function but really?
Definitely no to the day china, the good china, the celebration china, the related crystal and scary amounts of cutlery. White is great for dishes and you can get as inventive about decorating a table as the laws of gravity will allow. As for crystal, if you are like me, its hopeless because it doesn’t bounce.
Resistance isn’t futile – The Green Gypsy Caravan, South Island, New Zealand 2005
3. Clear desk/counter/table policy – Strangely I’m against this one. I don’t have clean desk policy. I have a tidy piles policy.
I’m very visual and if I put something away I can forget I have it, which leads to forgetting to do it. But my piles are lovely (usually).
My piles are sorted into folders or binders (boxes have their uses for long term storage. In an office, just say no) and of course labeled and decorated by me for my amusement. Hey any tricks that get me to do my paperwork are worth it. And if having George Clooney on my work folder helps so be it!
Oh dear and those are only three points covered about the evils of too much stuff and there are so many other very compelling ones.
So a visual illustration of 3 more!
The places you get to visit when you stop worrying about stuff
Kingston SE (somewhere between Melbourne and Adelaide), South Australia 2005
The natives you meet when you stop worrying about your stuff
Brisbane, Australia 2005
The views you will have when you stop worrying about your stuff
Greymouth, South Island, New Zealand 2005
Some of my more interesting recent discoveries have been:
The 100 Things Challenge
– interesting concept but I’m afraid even I can’t comply. I have over 100 books, but they are constantly in flux, some go, some stay, new ones join the collection. So is that one thing, as in book collection or 100+ individual items? This one’s hard!
is a great website from someone who made the jump from two cars and a big house to a bike and low low maintenance lifestyle
Far Beyond the Stars
Everett Bogue impressively gets down to 57 things – but he’s a boy (not that that necessarily mean he’s against personal grooming, but I’ll bet his hair isn’t as long as mine and I’m not cutting it just so I‘ll save one more item and won’t have that hair clip!).
Everett’s business is writing about minimalism – pen, paper and laptop are his essentials. As a photographer I have slightly more kit! Thankfully he has the same issues about books that I do and his things don’t include shared items like: chairs, cooking utensils or soap.
I do like the flexibility of these rules. They’re easy to personalise and all about degrees.
Writing this has made me see (again) how complacent I’ve become. I feel a big clear up coming on!
Watch this space
This person couldn’t cope! Reading Festival 2010