We’re living amongst the debris of our latest house move. Boxes line every wall of the house, there is not enough crockery left to fill the dishwasher and I can’t find any matching lids for the Tupperware. Everything superfluous to our lives – photos, artworks, kitchenware (that only comes out for entertaining) and sports equipment has been packed away and the stuff we really need for the last few days of survival is hanging on for dear life. I did try to get the old man into a box, but unfortunately, he was having none of it.
I know I’ve said this during each one of our twenty-eight moves over the past five years, but this stage of cleaning out your closet does make you realize how very few material (and indeed personal) possessions you actually need.
I’ve just started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck by Sarah Knight, based on the Japanese book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It is about ‘discarding items that no longer hold joy and organizing the ones you have left.’ That doesn’t only apply to material things, it applies to friends and toxic relationships, and interests that no longer stimulate etc.
The book is about mental decluttering.
You don’t need my excuse of a house-move to declutter. You can do it anytime, but I believe that middle age is an optimum stage in our lives to give it a go. More confident and mentally stronger than ever before, we have the wisdom to know what we want, perhaps a little more financial security, and the balls to finally action those changes without remorse.
There are obviously right ways and wrong ways to go about effecting such changes, so you do need to be a little careful. I’m lucky, I could throw away our wedding video and the old man would say ‘Good job, Lou,’ but you can’t charge like a bull in a china shop and tell people to fuck off out of your life – as appealing as that may sound. You can prune the tree in a way that is inoffensive – not returning calls is one way, removing friends from social media also works – muahahaha – simply saying ‘no’ is the goal. The premise of the idea is that unnecessary belongings, commitments, and toxic friendships become clutter and need to go. There’s enough to worry about.
Giving too many fucks is exhausting and adds undue stress to what is already a pressure cooker of a society.
Unknowingly, I’ve been cleaning out my closet towards a simpler existence for a while now. I realized some time ago that my over-commitment problem sucked the joy from the simple pleasures in my life and was adding extra pressure to an already frazzled brain. It was like working part-time and not being able to do either job particularly well, and it bred resentment and anger.
So in the same way that Mark Zuckerberg wears the same clothes every day, I am trying to tailor our lifestyle to make it simpler.
He says, “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community”- replace “this community” with “myself”. (Business Insider)
There is a new lightness, I can tell you. Less guilt, less shame, more time.
In terms of practical, day-to-day living, this means: saying ‘no’ and not meeting up with that friend that you dread seeing; planning meals, so that ton of unwanted food in the fridge doesn’t remind you about the starving in Africa each time you open the door; limiting your wardrobe – I buy four key colours so that everything coordinates which ensures less of those “I haven’t got any clothes” moments – I’m also working on a general colour scheme and theme throughout the house; being more picky about who you choose to spend time with and how many activities you participate in, even if that means more time on the sofa in your yoga pants questioning if you have any friends.
In summation, it means saying ‘no’… a lot.