I have always loved “things.” I’m a collector, a consumer, probably stemming from my father, the junk-store junkie. I collect things from nature, branches, rocks, bird nests. I love to buy coin purses and small purses, art, serving trays, lipstick, vases—I have a lot of vases. I understand shopping therapy, that it’s a quick and easy mood fixer-upper, and I understand that this kind of consumerism is often a surrogate for love, something to fill a sad and deep void. Some would say it’s an addiction (addiction one of my strong suits). Blah, blah, blah. A love of things is not always so easy to pigeonhole.
I won’t begin to give you an inventory of my many “things”—you’ll have to trust me on this one, I have a lot of stuff in a 3 story home in Maryland. For those who have been to my home and think, “why, this is a minimalist home, there is not too much stuff here,” understand that I am fortunate to have deep storage—“Monica’s Closet” for anyone who watched Friends (I watched it because my kids watched it). My point is, and forgive me for repeating myself—I moved to Key West with 5 boxes, and a subsequent pick-up-truck-load from my husband. If you knew how much “important stuff” I walked away from, you would know how monumental an act this was.
Ten months later, there are some interesting consequences coming from the decision to do with less. Of the 25-30 vases I owned, I brought 5 with me, and they all get used and I love all 5 of them—the chosen ones. There is a lot of silverware in Maryland and I just realized a few weeks back that I don’t even have 8 dinner forks in the set that came with the cottage—and it never bothered me. I have kept my laundry in a duffel bag all this time, and finally last week ordered a hamper. Appreciation has risen, perfection and the need to possess has fallen. There is less to take care of, more leisure time, more creative time. There is time to actually figure out what it is I really want to do and how to do it. And one other perk to all of this is that I have been on the very fortunate receiving end of many gifts (including gifts of food) from Key Westerners. Receiving is enhanced. Each “thing” given to me is not lost in a sea of things, each “thing” immediately finds home in a place of importance. The people and the gifts they share are treasures.
I’m an upper-middle-class, white woman so please know I don’t mean for any of this to sound like sacrifice, nor am I trying to pass along any lesson. I live in 700 sq. feet and couldn’t fit half of what I own in this space even if I wanted to. And I still love “things.” There is a piece of art in the gallery across the street from where I work that I’ve been drooling over for months and I’m trying to figure out a way to make it mine. There is beauty and pleasure in objects and it’s not all about filling a void. But considering that I’ve also spent this time without a car, and without the ones I love the most, it definitely has been hard work to do with less—hard work (finally) being rewarded with good things.
photo credit: aliexpress