This is Part I of IV in my Arbitrary Disciplines series.
It’s now 10:22 pm on Friday night and I am determined to get this post in on time. Coincidentally, I was delayed from writing my post on minimalism because I spent all day at my parents’ house packing and purging since they may be moving. So let’s talk about possessions and anxiety.
Actually, watching my mom struggle with throwing anything away today was the perfect precursor to writing this post. (This one’s for you, Mama!)
There is limited physical space in your life. There is also limited space in your emotional life, but that is a post for another day. I digress. As for myself, I have been obsessed with organization from the time I was a little girl. My mom would give me the task of organizing drawers or cabinets or files. I loved that shit. Seeing the immediate effects of my labor while also creating a space that left room for my mind to settle, open, wander and create – that was what organization has always meant for me. When things are in their place, I don’t have to think about them. As Heidegger claims, we don’t need to think about a tool until it breaks. This “rightness” of space gives our mind a break from worry.
The problem I hit about two months ago was that no matter how organized I had my things, I was still constantly picking things up, running out of room, needing to do laundry, feeling overcrowded. I was squirming from the weight of my things. The space I moved into wasn’t really any smaller than my previous spaces. I think I finally just accumulated one thing too many. Simultaneously, I started reading a LOT about minimalism. I won’t try to be exhaustive in my coverage of this new trend, because the blogs about minimalism are countless. However the articles that most affected me are here, here, and here. Seriously, read these articles. They’re incredible.
But – long story short – I started getting rid of stuff. And more stuff. I pared down until I have less than a half closet + 1 drawer full of clothes left. All of my possessions in the entire world could fit in my Volvo s-40. And that’s the way I like it.
After I got rid of so much, I found I had very little to do. All the time I had spent doing laundry, deciding what to wear, digging through my room to find something – I don’t have any of that to do anymore. I know where everything I own is. And I have so few things that I can locate anything within 5 seconds. When I finally finished purging, I took a breath that spanned years.
Now, to answer the modern(?) question, “If not with mundane tasks, how do we best fill our time?”