"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
I've always been fascinated by the idea of living a more spare life, finding a way to live without being surrounded by excess material possessions. I try to purge unnecessary belongings. I try to organize and simplify my life. It goes in cycles, every six months or so I am swept up in a fit of frenzy to clear the excess baggage from my life... in this last year that urge - and the sense that I am too tied down by things - has just grown and the need to pare away the unessential comes upon me with far greater frequency.
When I wrote this old post, I was just moving into my current home. It's been a good nest. A place to heal wounds after a painful and complicated breakup. A place to become myself again and get my bearings. But the last year has brought a lot of changes to how I see the world. I don't feel safe all alone in this house. Incongruously, I've gained a fearlessness in my approach to taking chances that I can only attribute to having lost so much - eventually you start trying things because little failures, embarrassments and inconveniences that you once found daunting are small and insignificant in the face of so much tragedy. I overcame my fear of traveling across the world to meet my family. Joined a local performance troupe that does edgy humor - something far outside my normal comfort zone. I'm working on overcoming my fear of public singing. And I think I'm ready to genuinely let go of the life I built in this house and start anew.
I have an opportunity to move to a much smaller space - an unused studio apartment in the back of an old friend's home. The offer was prompted by her desire to help me set aside savings so that I will be able to buy my own house - something I want dearly to do - but the result will be that I spend the next year in a very beautiful but very small space. Right now I live in a fully furnished two bedroom house. In my new home I will be surrounded by gorgeous views and have a private porch and sit in my bed and look out into vast forest, but I will also cook on a hotplate and have to pare away well over half of what I own.
I'm terrified. And exhilarated.
I once told a friend that, when making life decisions, I wait and listen to my gut reaction. I listen for that little thrill of fear and excitement. A singing of nervousness that ripples through me when I stand in front of a change and some part of my knows that this is what I must do. Because that's where the great fear comes from - from that knowledge. From seeing what must be undertaken.
Since I feel like I'm building myself again - from the ground up - I think going through a similar exercise with my life will be just the thing I need. So I am staring at my books. My furniture. My television. My dishes. My rows of shoes... Deciding what I can live without.
So far, I'm feeling like I can probably live without everything except the bunnies, the books and the shoes.
I feel that rush of adrenaline. I think I'm ready to leap.
"A little simplification would be the
first step toward rational living, I think."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
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