Collect moments not things.
I’ve always felt that I’m an extremely tidy person. That I keep things minimal, and organised, and tied with a nice little bow. However I have recently realised that I am not as tidy as I believed I was, or want to be. Let me explain…
Before I came home from my second year of uni this June, I had to clear out my room. Everything was already very organised, and I wasn’t expecting to discard much. How wrong I was. Though I had no where near as much clutter as my flatmate, I did have a bin-liner or two to get rid of when I was done. When I got home I repeated the process, and I threw out a ridiculous amount of…well, just stuff. Clothing I could send to the charity shop. Books, DVDs, jewellery, and toys I’d hung on to for sentimental reasons went to the same place. Newspaper clippings, magazines, old paperwork and bank statements and sixth form notes for the bin. Duplicates of toiletries I have since made it my mission to use up. Then there were my three momento boxes. That’s right, three.
In these boxes I had “memories” going back up to four years. Birthday cards, badges, cinema tickets, theatre tickets, receipts, shells, rocks- all to remind me of special moments…which I had long ago forgotten. I had forgotten who I have been to the cinema with/out for a meal with/ to the beach with. The birthday cards, other than having my age on them, held no memories either. I had so much stuff, meant to remind me of moments that were special, but that hadn’t even been special enough to remain in my mind.
Sat in my little nest of paper and rocks and bin liners, I whittled down my momentos to one small box. With the paper dragon from Chinese New Year that my friend Yvonne bought me, some letters from my mum during my first year of uni (albeit with very boring content, as nothing every really happens at home, but I digress), a ticket from when I went to see Macbeth with my friends Hannah, Katy, and Ellie, newspaper articles I had written for my university paper- and a few more similar items. Things from events I remember, and moments I enjoyed so much that they still make me feel excited or happy. I had a lot of photos floating around- since housed in a lovely photo album; for me photos are better triggers of my memory than any of the other objects I have mentioned. I also unearthed at least five old diaries- which I am both curious to read, and simultaneously dreading reading. Once I’ve read them, they’ll possibly be going into the bin. Or being burnt, seen as they contain the deepest secrets of my sixteen year old self.
In amongst all of this stuff meant to remind me of special times, I had forgotten the moment itself.
Since this sorting out session, I have been majorly downsizing how much I own. Sorting out my momentos encouraged me to make it a goal to downsize what I own in all areas.
I have cleaned out my cupboard in the kitchen, and when I moved my things from last year’s uni flat, to my new third year house, I threw away more than I had in June. I also took an inventory of exactly what I have over there, so I can just buy what I need. Because we have little kitchen space in our new home, and kitchen clutter is my personal demon, limited storage is just what I need to stop me collecting clutter. I stock pile cans and tins and pots and spices like a nuclear war is coming. I’m going to keep returning to what I own, and evaluating what I want or don’t want, and if I’ve forgotten what an object is meant to remind me of: the bin.
I can’t see me going completely minimalist to the point of having a black and white studio flat with one lone cactus on a marble coffee table. But ultimately I want to own much less stuff, and make the space in my mind for me to begin collecting many more moments, because I’ve found having less clutter has meant less stress, and more space to think.
This week, take a look at what you own, and get rid of some clutter. Anything that doesn’t have a purpose, or make you happy, needs to go. Once that’s done, focus on avoiding the clutter- in favour of remembering the actual moment.