Sunday, September 06, 2009

Trying to Live Simply - A Lesson in Clutter

Do I Really Need it?

I spent all night, until one in the morning cleaning out my office closet. Yikes. I am still not done.

It is a very good autumn reminder as I pull out my The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life
book to ask myself on every single purchase, on everything I bring into this house-- DO I REALLY NEED IT? Yes, I'm shouting at myself because I seem to forget that things need upkeep. They need a place to be stored, they need to be dusted, they need to be cared for.

To be honest, my life is so busy right now with family, school starting, this next issue of Crab Creek Review, and my own writing, the last thing I want to do is take care of material possessions. With everything needing my attention as the month begins, I do not need the things in my life also calling my name: "Kelli, organize me, store me, put me in a place where you'll remember where I am, dust me, care for me..." Seriously Things, I cannot live for you.

I have already told my family that I will be questioning each and every purchase that comes into this house. Every piece of paper that comes out of the mailbox. Every random cheapy plastic toy.

I sound extreme, I know. Like a crazy woman in midst of chaos. In a certain way, I am. Cleaning out a closet has a humbling effect on me, it makes me realize that I make some really bad choices in what I buy. I apparently was going to do some organizing because I found 3 portable filing binders. Or I bought one then lost it and purchased another and another. Who knows. No one needs 3 unused portable filing folders.

This cleaning is a good reminder to me to live consciously. To live intentionally.

Money in the best of its ability buys freedom. I learn more and more each year that stuff is not freedom.

While I love my books and artwork, I do not love the half-used journals of my life, the extra file folders, the wasted paper. I love dinner with friends. I love the brie and how it disappears, not needing to be stored. I love the poetry reading with a mug of chai tea, the giant chocolate chip cookie. I love the play, the movie, the drive to the coast. I love the trip to the ocean, but not the $3 bag of cheapo kids plastic golf clubs tossed in our garage.

This post isn't a lecture for you on how to live, but a self-imposed lecture and a reminder to myself to pay attention to what I bring into my life. Do I want cheapo plastic golf clubs that take up space and are never used again or do I want the memory of playing putt putt golf with my family?

I want the experience and not the thing.

I'm going to see what I can do without. Maybe I'll keep a list of all the things I thought about buying, but didn't. Maybe I'll share that with you if you're interested. Maybe. But for now, I have to return to the evil closet of waste calling my name. Life and it's bits of paper scattered around my room...



  1. This is the benefit of moving every year (sometimes into one bedroom apartments!) You definitely don't have room for clutter.

  2. This has been my story this weekend: lots of cleaning while the kids are out of the house. I'll post about it on Tuesday, but suffice it to say I know exactly how you feel.

  3. J9- Yes, moving is a great way to get rid of what you don't really love. And we tend to grow into our homes, I remember when we moved here how I said, "These cupboards will never be filled." Oops. How did that happen? ;-)

    January-- I look forward to your post. I think it's much harder to try to live simply and avoid clutter with kids. They seem to attract stuff. ;-)

    thx for your notes!

  4. Life is about the experience. The smiles.Very nice thoughts.

  5. i really want to do more of this myself, my spouse - less so, but i have at least gotten him to agree to no new shelving type rule so when a shelf is full of movies he must go through and donate some etc..

    it's a small step!

  6. Cathy, Yes! It took me a while to realize this, but it's experience (not things).


    Good idea about the movies. Things like that just add up!


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