Word of the day? Word of the week? Maybe even word of the year? Simplify.
I am really excited about this article I read in this month’s Sunset magazine. It’s all about a family who lives a zero waste lifestyle. The family lives right here in the Bay Area in Mill Valley. The mom, Bea Johnson, is a professional organizer and a blogger. They have two kids and a dog. What amazes me is just how much they have simplified their life. I love the pictures of their home in the article. That’s actually the most appealing part of the article for me. The words tell you how to do it but when I saw the pictures of this clutter-free home I thought: I.WANT.THAT. How nice would it be to come home and have no clutter, no crowding in your drawers, no cramming in your closets? To love the things that you own and to release the stuff that doesn’t serve you? It has definitely motivated me to do more this year to simplify my life.
Here’s my story of one important thing (for me) that I’ve been motivated to do so far:
Books. In the article Bea talks a lot about how they don’t own books. They go to the library regularly. When I first read that I had mixed thoughts. The part of my that clings to stuff said “No books? Sacrilege!” Then the part of me that wants to simplify said, “Well, we have a library less than 3 blocks away. Why not share a few more books with the library. Besides if I decide I want to read one then it’ll be there at the library.” So my simplifying self won that argument and I took a good look at my bookshelf. And there it was “Ulysses” by James Joyce. I bought this book when I lived in Ireland, in 1999. I had great intentions of reading it. It has now been with me though 3 moves and eleven years and I still have not read it. So “Ulysses” and several other acquired-with-good-intentions-but-never-got-around-to-them books went into my box to donate to my library.
Now here’s the part where I’m not completely there with the simplifying. The simplest thing would have been to just donate all those books along with the other clothes and household items I dropped off at the thrift store yesterday. I held the books back because I plan to take them to our library this week. I know that the library may not accept all of them and that will require another trip to drop them off at the thrift store. I’m OK with that. See long ago I started to realize that when it comes to my own personal attachment to stuff sometimes I have to make little bargains with myself – the little Clinging Angel on my shoulder versus the little Simplifying Angel on my other shoulder. In this conversation the Clinging Angel was able to release the attachment to the books because those books would be available at the library. (Nevermind the fact that all the books I’m donating are probably already available in the SF Public Library system). Attachment to stuff is not simply logical. We carry a lot of emotional attachment to our stuff. My “Ulysses” book was part of my special time in Ireland, the time I spent devoted to learning about my Irish heritage. My Clinging Angel didn’t want to let go of that special memory or admit that I probably wasn’t going to get around to reading Ulysses. So my Simplifying Angel had to take a baby-step by donating the book to the library instead of the thrift store.
Logical, no. Effective, yes. Score one for my Simplifying Angel.