Monday, February 20, 2012

The Road To Damascus

Last week when I was catching up on my blog-reading, I was doing Sarah's web time-wasters on the always interesting yes and yes and came on this, which had been inspired by this. These ladies decided to lighten up their lives by getting rid of 100 things; clothes, books, magazines, anything. In the past I might have just skipped on to the next thing, but I've been a bit worried lately about just how much stuff I'm accumulating. Buying secondhand is awesome, except that I've been using it as an excuse to defer making the decision of whether or not I actually want or need something. I'm a hoarder anyway, but in the past the things I've kept have had some kind of sentimental value to me. Now, I have a pile of clothes I haven't worn because they don't fit and I haven't altered them, or I thought they might be okay when they really weren't, and I'm adding to it just about everytime I go to a secondhand shop. It's like my dirty secret, and it undermines the good feeling I get from finding awesome stuff that I love and wear all the time. Reading about recycling, upcycling, re-gifting and throwing away things knocked me off my donkey. I decided to do it.

Three days later, I'm up to number twenty on my list, and I feel like my life is changing. Because we do everything together, Vincent is doing it too; we're both becoming a bit obsessed with it, and it's great. Yesterday I rearranged one of our floor-to-ceiling wardrobes and filled a rubbish bag with shit. I was dripping with sweat because our apartment is currently the hottest place in Auckland, tired from a 6am start with our little guest, but I haven't felt that good in ages. It's almost as if I was carrying around those things; I actually feel lighter.

A while ago I read about Anna's decision to live more simply on and then she saved, and was a bit stricken when I read about her not checking out library books and returning them unread anymore (I currently have a thirty dollar fine for late returns, 80% of which I didn't even read). So as well as getting rid of 100 things, I've made a list of related things, like presents I've had sitting here but haven't given, things I've borrowed but not returned, broken jewellery I haven't fixed, clothes I need to alter, hand-washing that's been sitting in the bathroom for months, MAC containers I haven't swapped for lipstick, and lightbulbs that have needed replacing since October. These things aren't note-worthy for most people, but I grew up in a house where a broken window in my bedroom took about six months to repair; I'm very good at adapting, and not very good at fixing. I don't even go to the doctor until I'm so sick I think I might die, and it took tooth pain so bad I couldn't sleep or eat for two days before I went to a dentist last year (also I'm just Viet Cong tough). Little things like replacing lightbulbs are important for someone like me, and getting halfway through this list feels great, so getting rid of 100 things is going to be momentous. And I know that next time I buy something, it will be something worth replacing one those things with, not something to throw out next year. This is a life-style change; self-improvement that I can effect from the outside-in (much easier than the other way).

I realise this is a bit boring, but I wanted to tell you about it because it means a lot to me, and maybe it's what you need to hear too. And by way of apology for not being bothered writing it in a more interesting way, I'm going to leave you with this, a song by a band I just discovered, First Aid Kit, who are excellent. Back to clothes sorting!

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