Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action. If you’d like to submit your story of how simplicity has worked in your life, please read more here. You can write about anything from decluttering a junk drawer to simplifying your diet. Let your small and big changes inspire others.
After my mother died and my father evacuated to Arizona I was left with the unhappy task of cleaning out my family’s home. Friends, acquaintances, and even strangers came to buy, donate, haul, lug, and discard. However, it was mainly me pouring over 35 years of things unceremoniously dumped in my basement. When I finally made it to the cinder block wall, I put my hand out to touch it and cried a bit because I never thought I’d make it to the end of all that stuff, because I didn’t know why we had all this stuff in the first place, and because I knew that I would never accumulate that amount of stuff again.
The exact moment my hand touched the wall in family’s basement I became a minimalist. I didn’t know that word at the time, but I did know that getting rid of stuff that was unused and unloved had become very liberating for me. I let go of things that not only had no value or meaning to me anymore, but also things that did. I realized that things had emotional weight and I didn’t have to carry that burden with me.
In the years that followed I continued to pare down both my belongings and the sizes of my living spaces. With each new bag of donations and with each smaller apartment (ok, 2) I was able to breathe more deeply and know myself better. I really “thought before I bought,” most of the time realizing that not only did I not need it, but also that I did not want it.
I also made the decision to purge my digital life. I went as paperless as possible from bills to music to pictures to books. In addition I made the somewhat controversial decision to leave Facebook. Granted I sometimes feel a bit out of the loop, but overall I am happy with the choice I made. I feel that Facebook doesn’t allow for the natural attrition of friendships. Do I really need to be “friends” with my kindergarten teacher and my ex-boyfriend from college? (Answer: No.)
My journey of minimalism continues to this day, and although I am far from perfect, the changes I have made have allowed me to focus on experiences over things. Some might disagree but for me that is infinitely more satisfying than a basement full of stuff or an endlessly flowing news feed.