I think I mentioned this Spring that the basement flooded. (Yes, because you remember and care about that from so long ago, right?) Anyway, it did. There was some stuff down there that I wanted to keep, but that I didn't know what to do with, so into the basement it went. Most of it was just stuff, but there were a few photos and keepsakes that I had forgotten were down there. I didn't put really important stuff down there, as it is an unfinished basement, but there were some things that I probably wouldn't have left there if I had remembered that they were there.
All that to say that when the flooding happened, it was much worse than I thought it could get, and it drowned my stuff. I had to wade to get it out, and pretty much it all had to be trashed. There were keepsakes that I'd had since 2nd grade. There were some photo collages (even though most of the photos were digitally backed up). As I was dragging all the crap up the stairs, dripping and starting to mold, there was a pang at having to put it all in the trash. The surprising thing for a sentimental person like myself was that once it was there, I felt... lighter. More free.
I am now motivated. Get rid of all the stuff! I am realizing that there is a lot of stuff that I am holding on to because I might want it someday, but in the meantime it is simply weighing me down. The vast majority of it, I will never remember was there (like most of the stuff in the basement). The stuff that I do think of someday that I may wish I had is all stuff that I can still live without quite easily. You know, like the things that sound convenient, but they're not because they're buried in all your other stuff and you can't find it? Yeah. That stuff. Good riddance.
I have gotten rid of a bunch of books- trite, banal stuff, not the classics. And not the trite stuff that I actually like. Stuff that was sort of okay when I got it, but that I outgrew years ago. DVD's that I never have time to watch anyway. Kitchen stuff that I never use, like the grilled sandwich maker that my mom got me one year... When you don't eat gluten and dairy, it's kind of a waste! I enjoyed it back in the day before I knew how much that stuff affected me, but it's over now. I've been getting rid of some college and grad school books and notes that seemed important, but after a decade of not looking at most of them, I am coming to realize that they are probably not that important. Etc.
I love it. It's getting addictive! Some of my closets and drawers are so much fun to open now because they contain things that I actually use, and not things that get in my way when I'm looking for the things that I actually use. I got rid of an entire small bookshelf today, which was awesome, because there wasn't room for it in my house, anyway. And I got rid of enough stuff that I no longer needed it! My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas, but I kind of don't want anything, because I have what I need, and I really don't want anything more right now. I want less. There is a long ways to go and a lot of stuff to sort through, but a little at a time it is happening.
So far, what I am learning is that a lot of us have a touch of hoarder in us. We keep stuff because we spent money on it, or someone else spent money on it and gave it to us, or because we might need or want it someday, or any number of other reasons. It often leads to needing other things, like containers and organizers for all of the stuff, sometimes even bigger houses to fit all the stuff. (Have you ever noticed how all real estate shows have the prospective home owners talking about the need for "plenty of storage"?) Also, there is the time and energy involved with keeping the stuff clean and somewhat organized.
I question, in my case at least, if some of the necessity in holding onto the stuff is a bit of holding on to some sort of illusion of control in my life. I am prepared for various circumstances because I have the stuff that I need, that sort of thing. I can see how a vow of poverty leads to more trust in God's control and provision, rather than our own. I can also see how, as this progresses, you could be more and more detached to the "things" in your life and more and more attuned to the people and experiences in your life. I know, it sounds a little overblown, but this is seriously what I've been experiencing so far!
Obviously, what is minimal to one person is excessive to another. What one person needs, another can't imagine needing. Storage space can be a very good and necessary thing. The needs of an entire family are a lot different than the needs of one and so forth. Still, I can tell you that I took a trunk load to a donation site today, and immediately came home and starting putting together the next load!