I have been thinking about minimalism a great deal lately, and it seems to me that it isn’t so much a case of getting rid of things as of distilling your life to its essence. Getting rid of things is not the point, it’s the process. All that stuff which is inessential (that is, not part of the essence) is an unlamented by-product of the distillation. I mean, when did you last hear someone fretting over the missing by-products of their whisky? Exactly.
When I look at my own life, however, I am afraid that it is far from being a pure essence. Any gunpowder drenched in the liquor of my daily existence wouldn’t give so much as a fizzle, let alone a really satisfactory BANG! Never mind proof or over-proof, you couldn’t get a dormouse drunk on this.
But there is hope for me yet. Little by little, drop by drop, I am distilling my life into something stronger. I am peeling away the layers of things I neither want nor need – garments that don’t fit, holey unmatched socks, random paper-based stuff – and finding as I do that I am feeling freer and freer from other stuff as well. Things I have kept for years, decades even, because I felt I couldn’t let them go, I now feel perfectly comfortable about releasing.
It’s actually quite addictive. The satisfaction of seeing all the dross purged from one small area of my life is such an enjoyable feeling I can’t help wanting to repeat it.
Purifying a precious metal from its overlaying dross is a good metaphor for the process, actually. So, to my surprise, is a military campaign. I always think of military campaigns as being terribly grim and disciplined – and no doubt they are. My campaign is more a guerrilla-style campaign of freedom and joy. Like a guerrilla gardener or a guerrilla knitter, except they add where I remove.
I find myself prowling around the house, interrogating stuff with a critical eye. I lie awake at night considering potential targets and plotting my next move. Keep the best and toss the rest. And by toss I mean gift, donate or recycle. Or compost, in the worst cases.
I dream of being free of the bulk, the sheer physical thingness of my possessions. Of having the mental, physical and emotional space to devote myself to what truly matters to me. I plan, in fact, to get tiddly on the distilled essence of my life.
What have you been dreaming about lately? How are you getting there?