Compulsion might not be the most accurate word to describe my attraction to minimalism, however, I struggle to find a more encompassing descriptor. Post moving out of an 1800 square foot house (as a result of the 2012 divorce and in preparation for a move to Australia) and during the 8 moves which have transpired over the last year, I have found myself perpetually asking “what else can I get rid of?” Until the last, most recent move, I’ve surprised myself with an optimistic attitude and used the opportunity to indulge my habitual inventory process.
Compared to my vision of normal, which has been painstakingly developed in a gruesome lifelong data collection process where I compare myself to every human I’ve ever met, I’m quite off the mark in regards to my inventory process. This draw to simplify, to rid myself of time loss managing property, assets, retirement, relationships, the list endlessly trails, has been ever present. I like to think of it as an ongoing “spring cleaning” in which no aspect of life is not subject to review. The review process follows a short list of questions after which, the end decision is to “keep” or “cut”.
When assessing stock, questions typically asked include but are not limited too:
-Is this useful? Follow up: When was the last time this was used? More than a year ago?
-Are my plans for this realistic?
-How long until I actually follow through?
-What do I get out of having this?
-Is keeping this preventing growth in my life?
Some of the belongings which survived my stringent cost/benefit analysis are:
My hope chest:
The contents can only be described as holding the most valued possessions one could obtain, family air looms, artifacts from holidays past, baby clothes from mine and my siblings youth, children’s books, my first rock collection, every piece of identification which ever imaged my face, every tattered concert ticket, and other scattered mementoes. Items for which a cost could never be assessed, and the deficit between their monetary worth and their meaning to me couldn’t be more vast. Not to mention the thoughtfully crafted pine chest which houses these treasures. It had been two winters since my late Grandfather, Richard “Denny” Rogers, has passed and with each season I clutch the chest closer.
Collection of natural science artifacts:
These items are organized on shelves and in shoe boxes. An extensive rock and mineral library weighing no less than 200 lbs, a digest of natural history volumes (earliest publication 1929), an assortment of feathers from various western birds, a hearty selection of maps (state, country, interpretive, and federal lands), and a collectors kit containing a rock hammer, orange safety vest, compass, hand lens, scientific calculator, specimen baggies, and rubber coated work gloves.
Miscellaneous outdoor gear:
This list is way to tedious to detail.
I guess the point of holding an inventory, in retail anyway, is to see where you have a surplus and see where you have a deficit. Knowing this, adjusting to balance each side of the scale just seems easier the less stuff you have, the less you’ve spread yourself. Like my dad always said “Life isn’t a fashion show”, he said success is “preparation meeting opportunity”.
I don’t have a lot of brand new things. I don’t have a lot of perfectly manicured clothes or ornaments. But after this process, after these last few years, loosing the house, the divorce, international travel living out of a 35 liter backpack mostly filled by my Canon 60D SLR, after the many moves, I am confident I’ve trimmed the fat. I know I’ll never win a fashion show, but I will be ready for that next move. I’ll be ready to let go of kitchen wear, couches, matching towels, I’ll be prepared for all the opportunities I seek. And I’ll clutch my pine chest with the passing of each winter season. With out all these opportunities to take inventory, how would I ever know what mattered to me?