February 23, 2005

Simplify! (Repeat as required)

A few years ago, my partner and I had a life-altering discussion. Neither of us were pleased with the path our life together was taking - it was too noisy, too crowded, too scheduled. There wasn't enough breathing space. We needed to do something before it got worse, but there was so much we wanted to change we just didn't know how to start. And then a little gem of a book called Simplify Your Life (Elaine St. James) came into our lives, and caused many "AHA!" moments.

We started with the stuff. Organizing it. Controlling it. Getting rid of it if need be. Stuff had taken over our world, overflowed most horizontal surfaces and had us this close to yet another argument.

You know how people refer to something as daunting? I was fully daunted.

But once we started it was less painful than expected, and extremely liberating. Over the next few months, we went through every single drawer and closet, sorting items to be kept, returned, donated or trashed. By the time we hit the last closet, we'd disposed of at least a third of the stuff, and we appreciated how nice it was to locate things with minimal fuss. The over-achiever in us recognized that this was only the first round of many cycles, and it got to be a bit of a game - how much more could we get rid of this round? Eventually we got to a point where the stuff was under control.

Then we turned to the time consumers that didn't fit into donation boxes or garbage cans. This was more of a struggle.

Aggravating committees and groups that don't actually do anything but drive you nuts and shorten your life span? OUT!

'Friends' who only show up when they need assistance, but can't be bothered to pick up the phone any other time? OUT!

TV shows that showed us someone else's version of life while they simultaneously stole the time we should have used to create our own? OUT!

And so on.

We got to the point where our home feels roomy & comfortable, despite being only 692 square feet. Life feels roomier too - despite full-time jobs, school, maintaining relationships with family & friends (and each other!), ongoing projects and miscellaneous errands.

So why am I writing about this now if I'm feeling oh-so-darn-pleased with myself?

Cause this simplifying thing is cyclical. And I'm about due for another sweep out.

1 comment:

Lesley said...

This really appeals to me. I am a naturally messy person, and so is my partner, so you can imagine how much stuff we've got strewn everywhere. Plus my addiction to anything crafty/arty makes for a lot of equipment and things that I've made. I think I need to take a leaf out of your book!