Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Start

I'm gonna clear out my head
I'm gonna get myself straight
I know it's never too late
To make a brand new start
~ Paul Weller

My dad passed away in August 2013. As much as I love the man, I have to admit that he was always a pack rat. He seemed to save everything, always believing that he was going to find a use for whatever-it-was some day, or already having a use for it if he could just find time to work on the project. Right up to the end, he kept piles of boxes full of half-finished projects and "get around to it" supplies. When he died, the rest of us started going through what seemed like a lifetime of unfinished hopes and dreams. It was as frustrating as it was sad.

It also tripped a trigger in my head. As much as I may have taken steps to never let that happen to me, it did. I was 50 years old with a house (and a barn) full of never-quite-started and half-finished projects. We had built an addition to our house in 2005, and since then I had somehow filled up what seemed like every empty nook and cranny with stuff. I had become my pack rat father. Going through so much of his stuff after his passing kept turning a mirror on my own lifelong accumulation, and I didn't like what I saw. Not only did I not want to leave that kind of "legacy" for my wife and daughter to clean up, but I just didn't want the burden of all that stuff in my own foreseeable future.

I started looking at my possessions with a much more critical eye, trying to clean up some of the clutter. My wife and I started keeping a bin in the kitchen in which to put items we could donate to charity. We started cleaning out our closets a bit more, discarding clothes that no longer fit but, for some reason, we were still hanging on to. Our daughter had toys and games that she had outgrown, there were kitchen supplies we weren't using, old electronic devices stashed away in our home office, books we no longer wanted to read, DVDs we no longer watched, CDs we no longer played, etc. Bit by bit, we began to declutter our surroundings over the next year and a half.

During that time, I also became aware of communities of people devoted to scaling back and minimizing possessions. The most inspiring one, for me, was Joshua Becker's Becoming Minimalist blog. The first time I spotted one of his posts while perusing Facebook, it felt great; like confirmation of everything I had been feeling. To this day, his posts (and he often shares posts from other like-minded writers) inspire, motivate, and guide me in this quest to live more with less stuff. I will be forever grateful for the help, especially since I still have a long way to go.

That brings me to this, the first post of this blog. New Year's Eve. I'm hoping this will serve partially as a diary of my journey to keep possessions from owning me, and partially as personal motivation to keep me on track. If, in the process, it helps anyone reading it along on the same journey, all the better. I'm excited and hopeful about becoming even more minimalist in 2016 than I was able in 2015.

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