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.
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.