One of those silly online quizzes (you know, something along the line of what color dog were you in a previous life?) tells me I have a “philosophical mind.” I think what that means is that for more than half my life, I have been wondering what is my purpose in life. On the down swing of bipolar, my purpose is negative: I am trying NOT to leave the world in worst shape than it is right now, on a grey maybe-it-will-rain August afternoon.
For the past six weeks or so, I have been on the R³ kick, although what I am actually doing is trying my damnedest to control my environment. It began because I realized what I most wanted out of my new house is an empty house — but clearly that cannot be, because I need a bed, and clothes, and kitchen stuff, and bathroom stuff, and and and . . . So the next best thing is to declutter. We (this includes DH and The Teenager) have been giving away/throwing away at least one item a day, although we tend to count groups of items as one item (a set of towels, a group of figurines, that stack of technical papers from 20 years ago). The surprise is how easy it has been. The other surprise is that though we have reduced and recycled so much (well, we think it’s much), it is invisible. The Teenager’s room is still cluttered, DH’s office looks about the same, I have way too many books and clothes and doodads, and we still have too much furniture.
So what is the Big Picture?
I moved to college with five boxes of belongings. I moved to graduate school with eight boxes in my little Toyota Corolla (back when the Corolla truly was a compact car). We now have five dining tables. Does anyone need five dining tables? In our defense, three of those tables function as desks, one is a sewing table, and one actually is a dining table. But still . . . Then I had a moment of clarity when I was reading an article about a man who bought a 700 square foot house, and immediately started making a list of “cannot live without” things. As it turned out, there were even more items on the “cannot live without” list that he could in fact live without.
If my purpose is what I think it is, then it should not be easy. When our neighbor moved out, she rented a dumpster, and managed to empty it twice with all the things she needed during her life in that house. I am trying to avoid that last-ditch dumpster dump, but not sure if I will succeed. So everyday, I continue to look at my belongings: Why are you in my life? How much “stuff” do I need to remind me of who I am?