I’m going for minimalist for real, for now anyway. I am pulling out all the stops to get rid of stuff I don’t need and/or don’t want, especially things I won’t want to take with me wherever (and whenever) I move next. I listed some furniture and decor items on Craigslist today and plan to do a clothing listing too. I’m not in a huge rush, but whatever doesn’t sell in a few weeks will get donated somewhere. I’ve done this before, but I think I’m finally getting to point where, in the near future–fleeting though it may be–I will only own things I really like and really use, and just enough of them. My dream would be to achieve this type of bare minimum (I go back to that blog post repeatedly for inspiration!). I am interested in owning and acquiring more furniture and art that I love (same goes for clothing and any other category really–definitely could use some electronics upgrades), but I am over knickknacks, over having too much, over poor quality, over random clutter, over junk, and all that comes with it.
Tonight, for the first time in my life, I started approaching my collection of photographs with a critical eye. Even though I rarely get prints made anymore, I have an enormous amount of printed photos for several reasons. First, I’ve somehow become the guardian of old family photos, going back to my grandparents’ and parents’ youths. Second, I was extremely snap happy as a kid and in high school, using Polaroid and disposable cameras–come to think of it, I was even a yearbook photographer in sixth grade, something I’d forgotten until now! And then in college I got really into shooting film even as I was introduced to digital cameras and the magical world of taking a gazillion photos at a time. And I’m sentimental. And I love looking through pictures.
But when you have 1,000, they aren’t as special as when you have, say 100. Fifty photos from a single event or trip become less meaningful than 5 or 10 good ones. One great photo can outshine any number of inferior versions. And: When I have so many prints that they’ve formed an inaccessible mountain, what good are they? And: Do I really need boxes full of similar photos, or bad photos, or photos of people I don’t even care about? No one knows more than me how meaningful photographs can be, but just because someone was there to click a camera button doesn’t mean the result was worth keeping forever. So today I did an initial purge, getting rid of probably half-a-trashbag-full of totally meaningless pictures, and sorting the remainders into some basic categories. Next, I’m going to sort through each category more carefully and decide what should stay and what should go. I still plan to keep a lot of pictures, but ideally at the end they’ll fit into a few albums and maybe a photo box or two.
Which brings me to the fun stuff. Often when people go on organizing/decluttering kicks they’re inclined to purchase organizing tools–boxes, folders, canisters, etc. But all the pros will tell you not to do this until after you’ve purged your belongings, otherwise you’re just moving your clutter around. So I’ve been forcing myself to hold back on any organizing accessories until I know exactly what I’m keeping, because only then will I know what I actually need. And now I’m more than happy to say that in the near future I’ll choose a few select items to help me with the final touches. In the case of the photos, I’m very, very interested in this 12-case photo storage container (each case can hold 100 prints). It makes me giddy to imagine having a small box of neatly organized, accessible, visually appealling, and easy-to-transport photos, after lugging around pounds and pounds and boxes and boxes of pictures for years.
In the spirit of minimalism, I’ve set another goal. I’ve designated my beloved wooden trunk as my “sentimental” storage container. I am just not a person who can or should purge every last photo or love letter or journal or empty perfume bottle or childhood toy or high school essay. But I think if I can keep the sentimental “clutter” (anything I don’t want to display for all to see) limited to a single wooden trunk, I’ll be totally happy. It’s a reasonable amount and it’s not hard to transport, nor would it be hard to store somewhere like my parents’ house if I ever needed to. It almost becomes a treasure chest.
Here’s to a weekend of more cleaning and purging and organizing!