In case you haven’t been reading along, the Minimalists Game (or #minsgame) is a challenge to reduce your possessions. You start on the first day of the month by getting rid of one thing. Two things on the second of the month and so on. If you make it through the whole month, you get rid of nearly 500 unneeded or unwanted possessions.
The exercise doesn’t just clean out closets and shelves (although it does a good job of that). It also forces you to confront your feelings about your stuff.
And oh, there are feelings.
There are gifts that you feel guilty for not liking or using.
There are clothes suffused with nostalgia.
There are the cooking gadgets that you were certain would turn you into a gourmet.
The stuff comes into your home for a reason. Getting rid of the stuff means unraveling those reasons and facing up to them. The good news is that the month takes on a momentum of its own. Even though I’m technically done, I still find myself squinting speculatively at every room, looking for more things to root out. There were things that I couldn’t bear to part with — and now I keep staring at them, wondering why they have such a hold on me.
One of the biggest challenges was taking on the stuff that wasn’t even mine to begin with. I’ve only ever owned one house, so I don’t know if this is typical, but my garage and basement came with a whole bunch of clutter when I moved in. Some of it has been useful, but there was a basement storeroom that I left completely untouched for over 13 years. This month, the #minsgame challenged me to take it on.
It was dirty work, full of cobwebs and debris. The good news? I dragged the majority of the stuff you see out to the curb and it was gone by the end of the day. Less for the landfill but I still had a fairly full dumpster when all was said and done.
The shelves were lined with old newspapers – like from 1967 old — which means that several home owners had ignored this room just like I did. While the Gimbel’s ad was awesomely mod, it made me sad.
We spend our days working for things that will only end up sitting on shelves to collect dust for decades. Our garages are too full for our cars. Our closets overstuffed with clothes and we have nothing to wear.
It was nearly 100 items all total, but more than that it convinced me of this: I’m never going to leave any one else this kind of mess. Should I leave this earth tomorrow or 40 years from now, I don’t want someone to have to sort through endless junk, broken things that I refused to make a decision about. I will get and keep my life simpler. I will limit what I bring in to only what I need and do a better job of ensuring that what I buy comes from sustainable sources, produced by adequately-compensated adults.
So thank you to The Minimalists for inspiring and all the folks on Instagram and Twitter for playing along. I heartily encourage you to try the #minsgame yourself. You may find yourself shaking your head too, but the satisfaction you’ll feel at a lighter life will be well worth it.