Chris and I are minimalists. We only want to have the bare necessities around. Now that does not mean the items in our home are not nice. Everything is very specifically chosen, but as minimalists we only have what we need, cherish, and truly want around. We are the opposite of packrats and hoarders. I just finished reading: “After a While You Just Get Used to It: A Tale of Family Clutter” by Gwendolyn Knapp — which made me think of my own childhood.
Knapp is very descriptive about her mom’s home, but in a nice way. You get the point that her mom is a hoarder. It is funny how you do not really know the world you live in until sometimes you are far away from it. Growing up I do not remember our house having a lot of crap in it. We did not have nice things, but there was not crap every where. The couch we had was gross, had many holes (thanks to the dogs), and was not what you would think of if you were looking at a couch. My mom would cover it with sheets, mostly because she did not want anyone to see what it really looked like.
We were not hoarders, but I think looking back that my dad was a packrat. If you came into our house you would not see it. He kept it in his “office.” He had an office in the upstairs of our house. It was his area, and there were lots of papers. He kept everything. He also had an office/garage of sorts for his flailing business. There his packrat tendencies were with “tools.” My dad was a contractor. He had 100’s of every type of tool, and always found a reason he needed another. His garage was filled with money in the form of tools — money that should have been used to buy food to feed his family. Alas.
I remember when he passed on and we had to go through his possessions. We filled storage units that equaled the size of a two-car garage. This was not for furniture or clothes or belongings. It was for his tools and files. We took inventory of everything and had to go through it all. Sadly, most of it went into a dumpster (the files) and the tools given away or sold. There wasn’t anything that amounted to much. Sharing all of this brings me back to the point of: What do we keep and why do we keep it?
Chris and I have carefully selected the items in our home, we discuss together the merits of keeping or getting rid of things. We think through “why” we are keeping something. Does it have meaning? In a time where people want to feel like they belong, do you think that people use stuff to find meaning in their lives? That maybe surrounding themselves with things (whether trivial or meaningful) helps them feel less lonely and that they have more in their life? I often wonder that about my dad. What did all that stuff mean to him? I would rather hold the memories inside, and get the clutter out of my life.
I have VERY high expectations. I really do. Ask Chris any day and he will vigorously shake his head and potentially roll his eyes. I want things to be good, well not good, but great, amazing, superb, and I will not settle for less. I will do whatever I can to make things happen. I have often wondered what made me cultivate such high expectations? I think some folks desire amazing cars, or worldly adventurous experiences. I just expect the best out of everyone I meet. So? What is wrong with that?
I am in the middle of reading: “Coming Clean” by Kimberly Rae Miller. It is about her life growing up with hoarder parents. A fascinating read and compelling memoir as it makes me think about strange happenings with families. While my parents were definitely not hoarders, my dad kept a lot of junk and I think that has evolved to why I am such a minimalist today. I just do not like to live around stuff, I want my surroundings to be about what is necessary, and what helps me thrive in my space. I wonder if my minimalist nature was living around meaningless “stuff” that just filled empty space? Is that what motivates hoarders, a way to fill a void? I do not know, but this section of her book about never settling resonated with me:
“I had taken the promise I made my mother seriously, making a mantra out of never settle, repeating the two words in my head over and over again when I wasn’t sure whether to do the smart thing or the scary thing. Never settle echoed on and on in my head during the days I was locked in a closet sorting headshots, a requirement of my internship at the agency.” page 129
I wholeheartedly agree with Miller. I never want to settle, instead of being resistant to change, I am resistant to settling. I will go at a problem from hundreds of ways before I will give up or settle. Ultimately if I settle it is because I really do not care about the outcome. Sort of like which direction the toilet paper hangs (well for some of you that might not be an issue you would ever settle on). For me, it is just toilet paper, but there are other items in my life that I would never settle on, like a job, or a spouse, my home, or my friends. We should never settle on the important things in life.
I have not finished reading this book, so you might hear from me again about the further inspiration I have gained. For those of you that decide to settle, especially because you think that you are not worth it. Debunk that myth. Stop settling. Just stop.