Get rid of all the things – Part V

So many little things can, when accumulated, be as bad as just a few bigger things. In my conversion to living more simply, I am having to let go of my tendency to toss the little things into a drawer thinking that they will not make any difference to my overall, not really out of control but still a nuisance, clutter.

As I look around for more stuff to part with, it’s the little things that escape notice and fly under the radar. If I was playing the increasingly popular Mins game I would be counting how many items I am getting rid of each day. I prefer to freelance. Guess it’s my rebellious side that comes out on occasion. When my wife passed, I did not attend grief counseling nor seek out traditional methods of dealing with my grief. I cannot recommend that for everyone though. Similarly, I am using my own methods of parting with the material things I want out of my life.

You really have to play some mind games with yourself. Not only do you have to ask yourself if something is useful, or will I ever use this but you also have to ask how long it might be before that set of eyeglass nose pads will ever become a necessity when you tend to buy your glasses at a dollar store. Discount cards and coupons for places you never or hardly go to are not worth hanging onto. How many buttons are worth saving? Okay, I am not throwing the buttons away. I am putting them with other buttons instead of having a few scattered here and there. If you are going to keep something around at least put the item with others of its kind.

My personality can often be extreme. Unchecked, I have the capacity to throw literally everything away. This could be a good thing as long as it’s not going to be something difficult to replace. But the loose watch batteries I’ve accumulated would only cost a dollar or two if I need some in the future. So they must go. The spare shoelaces that I never seem to need can also go even though they don’t take up much space. Sometimes I feel like replacing my laces just to use the new ones even though there is nothing wrong with the ones in my shoes. That’s a little dumb but I never said that I am beyond doing some dumb things.

It is getting much easier to toss things in the trash than I ever thought it would be. I am glad I’ve started this trend. I’ve got plans for later on in life that will require me to have a little as possible to burden me or slow me down. I believe I’m off to a good start.

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Get rid of all the things – Part IV

Going through my top dresser drawer makes me feel a bit like Forrest Gump opening a box of chocolates. I never know what I am going to get. Over the years what should have been a drawer for socks, handkerchiefs or some other article of clothing has become something entirely different.

Instead of a dresser drawer, it is more of a cross between the kitchen junk drawer and the trinket box from To Kill A Mockingbird.  I have put off tackling this area because of the variety of items it contains. There is no one category to define its contents. Over the years I have to come up with different ways to keep it somewhat organized. I hate junk drawers and especially despise just throwing everything into a heap. So over time, when I emptied a box of checks I took the boxes and used them as separators. Yes, I know it sounds tacky and yes, it is as bad-looking as it sounds. But, in my defense, it was somewhat organized.

I waded in, slowly, not wanting to drown in the sea of debris that was a distorted but not entirely inaccurate reflection of who I am. Key rings of various sizes along with non-functioning mini flashlights and a laser pointer with weak batteries filled one box. “Maybe I can fix this flashlight?” In another box I found a mini screwdriver and loosed the tiny screws that prevented easy access to the flashlight’s battery compartment. Now apart, I tried removing the battery but realized I had tossed potential replacements into the trash just a moment earlier. Into the trash I ventured hoping that somehow I would miraculously grab one of the stronger batteries and not a dead one. There was no methodology applied in doing this. I grabbed the closest one. Thinking I was one step closer to salvaging the light, I was unable to remove the old battery and the guts of the device began to fall apart.

In you really want to get rid of something and don’t have the heart to toss a gadget that appears to be potentially usable I will share my secret to overcoming this. Take it apart and try to fix it. If you are like me you will fail at this. And so the mini flashlight, the battery I was going to use to revive it and another mini light on the same key chain all went into the garbage. Even the mini screwdriver broke into two pieces and so that was tossed as well.

Even though this was a small advance it was still a step in the right direction. Next I encountered 2 to 3 shoelaces. Why? Because I would forget that I had one and then buy another. Why? Just in case. Okay, there is nothing wrong with having a spare set of laces. But these have been in the drawer for months and maybe years so they too will go, along with several sun-glass neck cords.

What’s this? A very small pouch of something that looks like translucent rubber bands. I have encountered this item before. I did not know what it was the previous times and still do not recognize what it could be used for. I open the pouch this time because now I am in the proper frame of mind. After turning the item around several times I decide that it might be something to hold bed sheets in place. Or not. In the past I recall putting this item back, afraid that I would throw it out and then realize later that it was needed. Not this time. Into the trash it went. A sense of accomplishment brought a smug grin to my face. I was mastering the drawer. It is only a matter of time now. I’ve got a couple of days off this week. If I can empty this one drawer to the point that whatever remains is of impending usability I will have hope that the next drawer will be handled with increased momentum. Pray for me.

Get rid of all the things – Part III

Little things count. Bags of clothes sent to Goodwill, community centers and drop boxes count. Seldom used household items and non-sentimental trinkets are all candidates for the downsizing process. Garage and yard sales lose their attraction. Instead of looking at them with the thought of what treasure you might find, you long for the day when you can have your own sale. Everything I see now causes me to question its long term utility. It is a change in my thinking that I wasn’t expecting.

One must be a bit careful. It can become easy to look at everything as expendable. I’m not quite ready for that. Getting rid of something only to find I would need it will cost me in the end. That is one benefit of starting a purge while there is no hurry. A time will come when I am ready to move into a smaller space and the need to get rid of stuff will be more urgent. By that time, I expect to have much less than I do now so that the process is not overwhelming.

The last things you should get rid of are clothes, tools and cooking items. At least that is what I am thinking right now. I am not following a particular plan but taking bits and pieces of what others are doing. Some of the people I’ve read are over the top and into lifestyles that are not of interest to me. I am not a vegan, yoga practitioner or tree hugger. I am not interested in eating bugs, hunting my own food or growing a garden. The nomadic lifestyle is somewhat alluring, offering the opportunity to see different places and not be tied down to one location and climate.

Having lost my wife has made it easier to get rid of material things. When you no longer have the person who means the most to you, everything else’s value decreases. Of course I am not talking about people. Inanimate objects no longer hold the appeal they once did. And so we can more easily part with them.

Stay tuned for more on my path to smallness.

 

Get rid of all the things – Part II

In my post “Get rid of all the things” I started to talk about my decision to get small. After selling a few things I am looking at what is not sellable (I think I just created that word).

In a cabinet full of old papers I found many more tax returns than is required. It took about 2 days to shred documents going as far back as the eighties. The temperature light on my shredder forced me to give it a rest so the motor wouldn’t burn out. Now I am sorry that I missed a recent event where shredding was free. Oh well.

It becomes boring to keep looking for papers to shred so I switch my attention to my closet to consider what I don’t, can’t or shouldn’t wear anymore. The ugly sport coat I bought on eBay and a couple of uncomfortable running suits that I’ve never warn (I do not run or even walk very fast) because they were on sale have been dropped off at places where others can buy them.

Simplifying and minimizing is more than getting rid of stuff you already have. It means you do not not buy as much either. When something wears out it is a sign that you use it enough where you might need another one to replace it. Unless I join a nudist colony, socks and underwear will always have to be replaced. I have too many ties and only one suit that I’ll have to lose a few pounds to wear comfortably and just two sport coats. This means some of these ties can go. I’m thinking that winter is a bad time to review my warm weather wear and summer is the wrong time to start getting rid of sweaters. Better wait to see what I need in these seasons before I start purging.

I do not want to spend every off hour searching for items to get rid of. There is no hurry. It is nice to be able to take my time about it. By the time my life is ready for another change hopefully I will have rid myself of enough to where there will not be too much to work on.

I don’t expect to ever reach the point where I’ll have so little I can fit everything into one trunk like John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but I feel like I am making progress.

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