I Was Not A Minimalist

I was a 100 square metre [1000 square ft] minimalist.

In April 2016 I sold my house and moved cities.  I have come to rest in a 40 square metre apartment [for simplicity's sake let's call it 400 square ft]. 

And I realise I was just pretending to be a minimalist. My old home looked spacious but:

  • I had a storage area for things I really no longer needed but didn't want to think about moving..
  • When I bought a new thing [e.g. chairs, lamps, plates, cups, glasses, coffee tables, towels, footstools, cushions, laptops] I kept the old thing.
  • I had multiple living and sleeping spaces.
  • My bookshelves were unnecessarily deep - and though I'd drastically pared down, there were still 300 books in my house.

I did give away a lot of stuff before I moved. I have only brought a tiny proportion of my larger furniture - no couch, no table, no dining chairs, no whiteware. But still I've brought too much.

I brought six pairs of sheets - not two
I  brought eight bath towels - not two [and another for guests]
I brought three bookcases, not one.

Moving house is a sentimental time. Many inherited items and junk shop finds made it into the boxes - objects that were past their best or not to my taste - but meaningful. 
Or indescribably ugly, but inscribed to my grandfather, who won it in 1922.

My fatal mistake was that I had the moving company pack my stuff. When you’re not doing it yourself you tend to default to “bring it”. Which is all fine and dandy until you’re sitting in a small room, surrounded by boxes you don’t want to even open.

The Defining Moment

I decided not to insure my household goods for the move itself - the cost was over $900 - even though everything was professionally packed. That seemed wrong. The risk of damage to professionally packed goods moving across a city or country is tiny. There’s probably more risk at home.

So I decided to identify the books, clothes, art and personal items that really, really mattered to me and bring them myself. I booked extra bags on the plane and bought two large hard-sided suitcases.

Including my clothes I had about 100 kilos [220 pounds] of stuff with me - around 5 cubic metres [6.5 cubic yards] The rest I consigned to the care of the universe, secretly hoping that the tiny risk of a truck crash or warehouse fire might come to pass.

It didn’t.

My Minimalist Equation

Unless you're moving or you work for a freight company you're unlikely to be thinking in cubic metres, yards or feet. So I've changed everything to percentages to make it easier

Here's my minimalist equation: 

100% - 50% = 10% + 20% + 10% + 10%

I began with a pared down houseful of possessions [100%]

I left half of it [50%] behind.

Breaking down the remaining 50%.  About 10% of my original stuff matters to me so much or is so necessary to my daily life that I brought it with me on the plane - and appreciate it being here. And another 20% can be categorised as 'in use'.

But until last weekend - a month since it all arrived -  around 10% of the stuff I began with - things I treasured enough to havethem packed and moved - was still to be unpacked or in ‘rainy day’ storage in the basement. And based on the way I reacted to all my books last weekend, I estimate that  another 10% will be culled from the items I've unpacked and stored  - when I get to them.  

So by the time I'm done with paring down I will retain only 30% of what I once thought was the bare minimum. Plus a new streamlined couch, table and office chair.

I am not there yet.

LightenJill Caldwell