Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Creating Space, Part I: Minimalism, Stuff, and Reclaiming Space

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Slowly, we are rebuilding from the shitstorm that raged across our house late this October.  I've started reorganizing and putting things away, a little at a time, and the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to get brighter.  The pace has been agonizingly slow, but certain places in our closets, kitchen, and studio are starting to look normal again.  Pretty, even.

One of the side effects of Beetlegate2013 is that we have had to truly sort and prioritize all of our items.  It's been a gargantuan task, but it has also been strangely freeing.  (Skirt that's in good condition but doesn't fit my style anymore?  Receipt from yarn I bought at Sock Summit in 2011?  Pairs of jeans that are old, threadbare, and too big?  Donate, trash, or use as rat bedding.)  Suddenly, life has started feeling far too short to hold onto this crap, and the looming threat of carpet beetles has given me a pressing reason to let go of things that I've been on the fence about for a while.  It's made me a lot more motivated about becoming more organized and minimalist in my belongings.

At the same time, I have some complicated feelings on minimalism, many of which are expounded upon in more depth in Graham Hill's New York Times piece on minimalism, this elegantly outlined response by Charlie Lloyd, and this Slate article by Katy Waldman integrating the two.

In short, minimalism is very often the luxury of the well-off, and unsustainable for the average person.  Minimalism relies on the ability to purchase high-quality, more expensive items less often than their cheaper, more disposable counterparts, as well as the ability to replace an as-yet unneeded item only at the moment that it becomes needed again - all of which is just not feasible for a lot of people.  At the same time, there's something powerful and deeply aesthetically appealing about consuming and owning less.

This experience has given me even more food for thought on the subject.  I think the answer for me lies somewhere in between the two extremes, probably as it tends to with most people.  I will admit to my moments of wanting to throw it all away and start over; I know that I absolutely loved dressing from a capsule wardrobe of about 15 items when I lived in Japan; I also know that I have a deep love for and inspiration from yarn, clothing, and books.  Seemingly contradictory, these things are all an integral part of how I experience my belongings on a daily basis.  The challenge will be to reevaluate how much space I want things to occupy, and how to be okay with that.


Because after all, I really do love me some yarn.

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