A minimalist’s struggle

This is the ninth consecutive year that I’ve moved, and each move has been progressively harder. It all culminated in this last move to New Haven, when almost a decade of my crap was shoved into the back of a U-Haul and carried up a flight of rickety stairs.

Ever since, I’ve been trying to consolidate.

I’ve donated clothes and books, threw out old electronics and even sold a handful of watches in my collection. I’ve cleared off my desk to the point that all that is left is my monitor, keyboard and a lamp. It’s all part of this minimalist philosophy to which I’m trying to subscribe: Only keep what you need.

And it turns out I’m a great minimalist. I can give things away without a second thought, and I can (usually) resist buying things I don’t need. But I look around, and I still see stuff I don’t need all around me. Little desk toys, knickknacks and pictures are on every single ledge of my apartment, to the point that it looks like a modern art museum. It’s frustrating, and never-ending.

The past month has been a struggle for me. I get up in the morning with no day-to-day purpose. I’m often anxious because I know this way of life isn’t sustainable, for my sanity or my bank account. It’s been incredibly difficult to clear my mind and relax, because I feel like I’m stuck in the lukewarm purgatory of this Ikea couch. So the idea of minimalism — or clearing things out and focusing on what’s important — seemed wonderful.

Except I can’t seem to clear out all my crap, because I run into the box of secret notes from my girlfriend, or the painting my mom bought me from Indonesia, or even the plastic action figure my brother gave me — for my 25th birthday. I run into the creepy Kansas University bobble head doll my dad gave me before I moved to New York, or the faux-Beanie Baby I bought in third grade because my parents wouldn’t buy me a real one. Everything has a story attached to it, and I’m afraid if I throw out those things, then I’ll forget the story. And what’s great about these stories is that they help me get an macro-perspective on my life. My life isn’t about laying on my couch and watching YouTube videos; that’s just where I currently am, after doing awesome thing and being with awesome people. It’s just part of the story.

So that’s my long-winded justification, to myself, of why I’m not getting rid of all my crap.

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