Last Year I Became a Minimalist..

Last January after my New Year’s resolutions had faded far away, I thought about becoming a minimalist.  I really didn’t know what it meant, but I was certain it reflected giving up all your possessions and being as happy about it as a junkie on prescription refill day.  I didn’t get it, however my house was a tad cluttered, I had some piles, and well it seemed like the thing to do. So I went out and bought a couple of “How to Become a Minimalist” books and sixty dollars later, I realized I just bought more to get to less! Why didn’t I just go to the library?

So I read a littlifes-too-short-for-minimalism-quote-1.jpgle, and decided since being a Vegan is out, I would try being a minimalist of sorts, perhaps with my own spin.  I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of “things” I had collected, and still kept collecting on weekly and sometimes daily trips. I will tell you a secret, Staples is to a minimalist what a bar is to an alcoholic.  Staples out of all the stores, is out to destroy this minimalistic concept. It sucks you in, I feel the vacuum-like suction pressure as I have tried to slither by-I am always snagged, and 40 to 50 dollars later I inevitably  leave with an assortment of new pens, journals, flash drives; you name it.

So first I looked into my consumption patterns; how much shopping did I actually do, both on-line and in store, and what the heck was I buying?  I tracked myself for three months, and my findings were quite surprising.   Not a week went by where I didn’t go to Staples, neither did a week go by when I didn’t shop on-line, especially at Amazon.  I also spent copious amounts on hard books, although I have a tablet, and can download whatever I want at a fraction of the price and without taking up a speck of space. I guess my family thought they were doing me a favor by not hosting a familial intervention on my behalf.  I found clothes…not in one or two closets, but like in too many to admit. Many still had their price tags still on them.

So by March of last year, I had scripted a tiny decluttering plan, which whose details I wont bore you.  My house is three levels.  I live alone except for the half time I have my daughter, and I have my beloved pug Julia Bleu. So you get the picture, lots of space, with not a lot of people.  I did ask myself about that in case you are wondering.  Why did I have a place that was so much bigger than I needed?  I dope-slapped myself with the answer: because I had so much stuff and  needed space for it all.  For a brief moment or two, minimalism made perfect sense.  So I started the decluttering process.  I did it with a two pronged attack.  First I started with a room, and on top of that I started with drawers in my study, because do to the Staples weekly suction, I had more things in my study that I needed to sit down and cull through piece by piece. No I have no idea what the piece count was of thousands of pens, highlighters, mechanical pens, refills for everything, and probably enough new empty journals to last me well into the next five or six years. This was not a happy, enlightening time; it was pure hell.  It was at this time, one day sitting amidst hundreds of pens, none of which I wanted to part with, I went into the bathroom, and began practicing: “Hi my name is Corey, and I am a hoarder.”

I decluttered painstakingly for all of March and April. Every other day I would bring two to four huge bags of stuff to Good Will.  I must admit, THAT was the ultimate high of my becoming a minimalist. Every time I brought my reusable bags into Good Will I got a sheet of paper with the date and the number of bags I donated.  I was quick to make a new folder to house these slips, and reveled in the growing stack.  I have no idea how much of anything I had, but it is embarrassing and maddening as I watched all the money I spent on things go right out the front door.

I didn’t cut back on my electronics; still have five laptops and a desktop, and my writing utensils, while I probably hung on to more than I needed. My hardest moment arrived when it was time to part ways with some of my books. My books are very important to me, as a lot of times when I read them they become part of my family.  Saying good-bye to some I didn’t need, including the two I bought on Becoming a Minimalist, proved to be very difficult.

Now it’s a year later.  Am I still a minimalist, do I think my life is better, more simple, less chaotic?  Here is what I know:  I did get mindful about my consuming, and I have stopped the bleeding there as much as possible. I learned for me being a minimalist wasn’t so much about getting rid of things or objects, its about freeing up my time, which is so sacred to all of us. I learned I needed to change my social networking patterns, and amount of time in front of a screen.  I have learned the mighty importance of shutting off all my electronics, including my phones, to enjoy time with my daughter and loved ones.

So am I minimalist in the sense I have three pairs of jeans, a one pair of sneakers, no!  However, my lessons learned about the sacredness of my time and my time spent with people I love and cherish does make me what I have learned is a  neo-minimalist.  I spend my newly saved money I used to spend on things, now on all sorts of experiences. I even realized that with all the travel I have done I want to travel even more. Through the journey of becoming a minimalist, I ultimately realized the one thing I wanted as much of as possible were memories to carry with me for a life time.



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