We discovered a few months ago that decluttering and downsizing were twin necessities if we wanted to move from an ordinary suburban house to an apartment half the size without too much fuss, inconvenience or discomfort.
Disclaimer: this is not a blog about how to declutter
Although neither of us could be described as serious hoarders, we’d accumulated an assortment of ‘things’, separately and together, over our long lives. The thought of discarding what seemed important, sometimes even precious, felt daunting at first, but once we started I could see that living with less could be wonderful.
I can imagine how, for some older folk, less fortunate than us, decluttering could be devastating. Without good health and energy, it could be very hard work. If we hadn’t been looking forward to moving to a new, exciting apartment, I think the process and the results could have been very different.
For us, fortunately, there was plenty of choice and enough time to do what we wanted.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of writers and life coaches have contributed to the literature about decluttering in books, articles and blogs. You can find an assortment of them here. They cover many aspects of the subject, from why people should declutter to how to go about it. There are a number about decluttering as a spiritual practice and a few about how to help older people prepare for life in a simple room in an aged care facility.
We skipped reading about the process. Instead, we visited a lovely couple, much, much younger than us, who have embraced a simple, if not minimalist, lifestyle. They generously opened their cupboards and drawers. They showed us their possessions, and gave us tips about how to live abundantly, with fewer material possessions.
Theirs was the lifestyle I aspired to in the late 1970s and early 1980s, soon after Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered by the German born British economist E.F. Schumaker was published. At the same time, Ghandi’s exhortation to ‘Live simply that others might simply live,’ became the catch-cry for many Christians and others interested in alleviating poverty and using the earth’s resources frugally. It has been good to revisit that philosophy so many years later.
Reasons why decluttering was delicious
- Instead of ‘throwing away’ or ‘discarding’ we thought, instead, of gently ‘letting go’ those things we no longer used, which did not delight us, we had too many of, or which would not fit into our apartment. The result was a feeling of gratitude. Those possessions had given us pleasure, even though we no longer needed them.
- We shared memories that we might otherwise not have thought about.
- We chose who to give our treasures to. Things from our own parents and even grandparents found homes with children and grandchildren whom we know will treasure them. This was a lovely process, to give joyfully ourselves, rather than to have one’s belongings distributed after we die. It is good to see things displayed. Some gardens appear richer for our contribution of plants
- I loved donating furniture, tools, wool and fabric collections and other bits and pieces that no one wanted to strangers through the local Facebook group, Buy Nothing, and through charities.
- Putting real rubbish into skips was a liberating exercise.
- At this end of our lives, it is good to know that our children will have less to sort through and perhaps put into skips to go to the tip before they can sell our home,.
The overall result of decluttering
- An amazing sense of freedom from caring for ‘things’.
- There are fewer time-consuming choices. For example, the only clothes I own fit into half the space and everything fits me well and looks good. No more worry about what to wear or what shoes go with what. With fewer cooking implements, less searching for the right one. With less household linen, less anxiety about which sheets fit best.
- The things we own fit neatly into their allocated spaces, wonderful for a person who values neatness.
- We can boast of empty drawers and shelves in our apartment.
- Our spaces looks calm and uncluttered.
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