“Have stories to tell, not stuff to show” – Unknown
So I heard an awesome podcast the other day, featuring the founder of The Last Bookstore in LA, Josh Spencer. First of all, his story is amazing and if you get a chance, listen to the podcast “Don’t Keep Your Day Job with Cathy Heller” Season 2; Episode 59. In it, Spencer says something really profound about embracing the “plot twists” in your life’s story, and that he didn’t personally want his story to be a boring, sad one after being paralyzed at a young age. He went on to found an unbelievably successful bookstore/record store/art gallery that has become an icon in the LA area (with people even getting married there!).
In (probably not obviously) related news, I’m also following a lot of curiosity in the area of minimalism lately. I’m SO intrigued by the idea of capsule wardrobes, ruthless editing of the crap we allow in our house, owning less and DOING more. Breaking the anchors that keep us strung out. Working to feel freedom and enjoy the doing-part of life. I’m fascinated by the possibility of feeling lighter, less burdened by organizing and consuming.
We have so much crap. Toys, clothes, bins, boxes, papers, oh my! Our basement turns into a dumping ground for the crap we don’t want to look at it; but it’s there, looming, waiting for me to come down there to grab a roll of wrapping paper for a gift or an extra roll of paper towels. I want it gone. I want simplicity and I want clean.
The funny thing is, simplicity isn’t simple. Far from it. Simplicity takes work in this culture. Striving for simplicity forces you to understand the difference between what you need vs. what you want. It forces you to prioritize. Simplicity requires you to be an unwavering gatekeeper of what you allow in your home and life. It requires us to second guess the consumerism that is thrown at us literally 24/7. I have this romantic aspiration to have 1 of everything we need. But not just any one. The BEST one. The most unique, beautiful, one. I want handcrafted quality. I want ridiculously functional. And when that ONE gets worn out, we will thank it for its service, get rid of it and get a new one. But also, as you can tell in these pictures, a $1 net goes a long way too.
The dichotomy we have to address here, while we’re talking about getting rid of stuff, is the simplicity/abundance phenomenon. Just like simplicity isn’t simple, abundance does not equal more crap. The feeling of abundance comes from stripping away the distractions and noise. It comes from being able to crawl out from under the pile of stuff keeping you pinned to the ground and realize that the universe provides everything we need. It comes from taking a moment to realize just how freaking lucky you truly are to have woken up today with breath in your lungs and the opportunity to make this day HAPPEN. There is progress to be made, you can be healthier if you choose. You can create or nurture the relationships in your life if you choose. You can pick up a hobby, hone a skill, do something crazy, do nothing at all.
Abundance is realizing the truth that there is enough to go around. Simplicity is a tool available to get there. Oppression happens when we focus on scarcity and fear.
Which brings me back to the beginning. What kind of life are we simply accepting underneath all this stuff? What kind of interesting stories are waiting for us on the other side? What could we do with all that time spent organizing, thinking about stuff, trying to buy happiness? We could go DO! Have adventures, explore, create life stories. Personally, I want to travel and spend time learning photography and taking beautiful pictures. I want to have a home base where we can spend time in comfort with family and friends (and I don’t want to have to break my jolly mood by shoving away all the crap before they come over). I want to spend as much time that is logistically possible getting to know the little humans we are raising. I want to take care of this body as best I can in order to fully participate in life. I want to wander in the woods and look around with wonder.
And funnily enough, most of those things, aren’t things.