Mom is giving away all our stuff! Please help. I need my stuff.
Just kidding. Mrs. Peabody didn’t say that because I don’t know of any cat that “needs” stuff. Sure, we have some really cute toys here: reindeer from Christmas, a little lobster that Louie doesn’t play with much anymore, a blanket made by my grandma to keep Mrs. P warm when she was a baby. How many of these emotions placed upon these items, though, are the cats’? And how many are just mine?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the things I have in my life. I look around at my house and, though it’s tidy, I sometimes feel weighed down by the number of objects that are in it. Every object requires care, even if I don’t really care about it. I add water to my piano humidifier system (five minutes), I dust the shelves but have to move fifteen knick knacks first and then put them back (fours minutes), I need to vacuum but have to move the screen that’s on the carpet to shield the twenty cat toys on the rug (45 seconds). The more I started realizing that items are not just passive things that sit around, but that they require monetary investment followed by time, upkeep, and energy, the more I wanted to pare down. I want to keep only the items that are worth my time.
This minimalism concept has been growing in my thoughts for awhile. Recently, I was offered a job in Los Angeles. A dream job, really, but for several reasons, I turned it down. One of those reasons was that I had no idea how I would fit me, six animals, and all my stuff into a small enough place that I could actually afford. And right then, the seed of “why” was planted. Shortly after I made that decision, I watched a documentary called “The Minimalists,” about two friends who gave up their high-paying jobs, put all their things in boxes, and kept what they needed. Going forward, they brought into their lives only what had value, whether that be a necessary tool for their craft (a laptop) or more time with their loved ones. Searching further, I found their website and read more about their journey and ideas. I recommend spending some time there, if you have it.
In their account, they decided to pack up everything they owned and only keep what they used in ten days. I will admit that I’m not going to go that far, but I am looking at everything and asking “why?” Why am I keeping this? Why do I need this? I’m also wondering “Can this benefit someone else?” and “Can this do more good elsewhere?”
So, I started small. I found a pair of earrings I never wear, given to me as a gift by a student over a decade ago. I gave them to a current student who recently had her ears pierced and the smile on her face was absolutely worth it. Then I tackled the five boxes of books in my attic. I used to have a room full of shelves. I called it my library and I dreamt of the day I would have that again. But now, it doesn’t suit my lifestyle. I opened the boxes and pulled out just the books I loved, ones I have read more than once and may read again. I kept those. The others went into the neighborhood library box on my street, some will be sold, and many I will donate. I find that it’s easier to donate when you have a good cause. Since my cause is almost always animal-related, I’ve decided to donate to the Humane Indiana Resale shop. Everything they sell benefits their rescue work for homeless pets. Suddenly, giving away that rarely used panini press doesn’t seem so painful.
Thus far, I have thrown out one full trash bag and one full recycling bin, given away roughly fifty other items, and have two full boxes ready to donate. Clearly, I will NOT be giving away my animals, but I CAN give myself permission to give away a few of their unnecessary items. Giving feels good. It’s lightening my burden and making me nicer to people. I already see some of the benefits and I’m not even halfway finished with part one.
P.S. As I was writing this, I heard the sounds of Pinkle opening the pet toy drawer behind the couch. She crawled in, and out of all the thirty or so toys in that drawer, she found the one little wooly ball that she loves best, and she brought it to me to play. And that is the one we will keep.