Yesterday I had a garage sale to start purging the stuff from my previous life. I went through closets, cabinets, drawers, on top of cabinets, walls, etc. I didn’t leave a stone unturned in my house. It was an enlightening process.
First of all, how much stuff does a person really need? After pulling everything out of my kitchen cabinets I started evaluating things. Do I really need three sheet cake pans? (No.) Do I need this much storage? If I wasn’t using it when three people were living here, would I ever really use it when it was just me? No. Are there baking dishes that can pull double (triple, quadruple) duty? Yes, so I can keep the ones I use often and get rid of the rest. Do I need five sets of chargers? No, my entertaining style has changed. As I went through my whole house I kept in mind this criteria: do I love it or does it have meaning to me (such as things I’ve brought back from my travels); do I use it alot (or can I adapt something else) and is it multi-functional?
The result was an enormously successful garage sale and a clearing out of my house. Nothing is going to replace the stuff I got rid of. The top of my kitchen cabinets will remain empty. Walls will remain blank. When I get ready to sell my house this will work to my advantage since many people can’t see past your house’s “personality” or decorating style.
All of this decluttering is part of a bigger goal, my ever constant search to do more of what I love, to be more and find balance in my life. It brings me back to my search for simplicity and sustainability.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the subject. My most recent one is “Living More with Less” by Doris Longacre. It was written in the 70’s but there is an updated version. Doris was a Mennonite so the book has religous overtones, but her life standards are ones that anyone can adopt and embrace, no matter what your religious view are.
Doris’ five life standards are: do justice, learn from the world community, nurture people, cherish the natural order and non-conform freely.
Many people and companies have hopped on the sustainability band wagon, which is good, for the most part. Some just do it for marketing purposes while others are really trying to follow the philosophy. I think educating yourself and examining your values play a large part in making it stick. As one author said, sustainability is not the goal, it is a process. When you live an examined life, when you ask yourself if you are really happy and fulfilled, the questions you ask yourself tend to point towards a sustainability mindset, though most people might not label it as such. When you find yourself doing meaningful work, becoming deeply involved with the people you love and building rewarding relationships, you will probably find that most of the trappings that corporations would have you believe are important, really aren’t. What you’ll find is that you’ll quit living your life on the surface, where you are at the mercy of the elements (ie. what other people think) and your resolve towards a life of purpose will grow deep roots that will support you.