This year I moved coasts. I finally decided that enough was enough, and I left New York (after nine years) and made it out west to California. By far the best move of my life – I am not a city person, and probably never will be. Already my life out there seems like a distant dream, and myself out there, a stranger. Granted, LA is still a big city, but I have access to the beach and nature. To me it feels like a holiday.
One of the side effects of the move is that I was forced into trying out minimalism. I moved with one suitcase of clothes, and the rest went into storage. All my collections from my travels, all my books, all my ambiguous striped shirts – put away. And it has been interesting. Personally, I’m not sold.
I read about minimalism along with the rest of the world in early January, with the rise of the minimalists. The release of their documentary garnered a lot of press and for a minute they were all over my favorite podcasts and websites. They definitely sparked a revolution of sorts in the wellness world. I was curious, but not that curious. My mental space has been pretty squared away. I am not a hoarder at all – in fact quite the opposite. I have always been an extremely good donator of clothes. So good in fact that my husband has had to intervene many a time to stop me giving away something I would regret. I love order and cleanliness, and can count on one hand the items of clothing I have bought this year. But… I am a collector of books. So many books – they filled our old apartment, floor to ceiling in every single room. Into storage they went, and I felt physically sad at the thought of not having them easily accessible.
I also travel to a lot of incredible places, and love collecting treasures from them. I have amazing masks, rugs, crystals, wall hangings and artwork from all over the globe, and they make me feel happy to look at them. Into storage they all went too. Our new house felt pretty empty without them.
So when I moved west I brought five of my all time favorite books, two of my dearest treasures, and left the rest behind. It sucked. But then I joined a library and the pain improved. A little. But I still miss all my favorite books, and I miss being able to put my hands on them at any time. And I missed lying on my living room floor on my favorite rug from Morocco, and looking at a dream catcher I bought on my first trip to Mexico, at 17 years old.
And once we were able to get into our old storage bin and we slowly began to bring over our belongings, I realized that my “things” truly bring me joy. I felt physically happy looking at my “stuff”. I love looking at photos and Polaroids of my family and friends, and I love looking through my photo albums. Looking at scanned photos on a computer has zero vibe to me. It is hard to beat the feeling of an actual book in your hands – turning pages on an ipad just isn’t the same. And looking around a sparse living room, with maybe a plant makes me feel lonely and sad. It makes me feel like I am in yet another hotel room, and I have spent too much of my life in them.
Simplicity is key. Living a life where you let go of excess is incredibly freeing and important. However I think acknowledging the items that make you happy and bring you good memories is more important. Your things shouldn’t rule you, they should add to your existence. In a world where everything is becoming more sanitized, and digital, I think we should hold onto “old fashioned” ways of being – like reading an actual book, and collecting memories that you can hold, not look at on a screen.
Maybe I’m just old fashioned in that way 😀