Did you read that article in the New York Times, “But Will It Make You Happy?” If not, I highly recommend doing so.
The article led me to Tammy Strobel’s website, Rowdy Kittens, which led me to a whole bunch of online resources about living simply and simply having less stuff. If you want to explore more, I would start at the aptly named “Start Here” tab on Rowdy Kittens.
Recently, Sean and I have both come around to an inspired revelation: we’re sick of living in a cluttered, cramped, messy apartment. I’ve been organizing cupboards and discarding the contents of junk drawers, and he’s been cleaning out the basement and organizing our “getting ready” room (the room that’s too small to be a bedroom so it’s a glorified closet). I’ve given away a fair amount and I still find myself with so much junk. I have considered bringing my mother in, and telling her to be ruthless. I’ve also tried to channel my friends Brynn and Natalie, both of whom have given me excellent advice about getting rid of clutter.
The simple truth is that we just have too much stuff. And most of it is mine.
The good news is that I’m inspired, and that there are a number of resources pushing me towards the purge. One of them is Buffalo’s Really Really Free Market, which next meets on Saturday, September 11th at Bidwell Parkway from 2:00-7:00PM. The idea is that you bring whatever stuff you want to give away for free and take as much or as little as you want from other people. No bartering, no selling–just giving away free stuff. I loved the “free culture” I encountered in Portland, Oregon, and hope to see the idea grow in Buffalo.
Another inspiration: this essay on getting rid of books. I have a lot of books, and I’m terrible about getting rid of them. I find this amusing because during my MLS program I’ve learned about the importance of “weeding” collections, and I agree with the practice. I visited some school libraries that haven’t been significantly weeded in years, and it’s scary: kids can’t find their way through the packed shelves. About her school library, Brynn is fond of saying, “We are not an archive, we are a library.” I realize that I’ve been treating my home collection as an archive, and I know I’m not the only one.
Finally, the other source of my inspiration (or perhaps more accurately, alarm) is The Story of Stuff. If you have 20 minutes and are open to making some life changes, I recommend watching the original film. It has inspired and shamed me into making a conscious decision to buy less stuff and, as Sean pointed out, that’s really the key to my purge and meeting our goal of a simpler, cleaner, clutter-less life.