I have been fortunate to experience a certain sense of freedom since I left my last permanent home in Baltimore. I’ve felt more spontaneous, without boundaries and literally lighter on my feet. I have moved about 8 times in less than 3 years living a low maintenance, low stress life style. Bringing with me only the bare minimum, I have freed myself from excess belongings to weigh me down. Well… all this sounds lovely, but it’s not entirely true. My confession is this, I still own a ton of STUFF just like everybody else. My life as a free-spirited gypsy is a sham.
Sure – my spirit might be free of a home and mortgage payments, but it sure isn’t free from stuff – I do own have belongings: they have all been living in the basement of my old apartment just waiting for me to come home. I have never really signed the divorce papers with my stuff, we’ve only been separated, living apart these past few years.
In my last post, I talked about my love of making things, as well as collecting them. I even referred to this love as a borderline addiction. Well let’s just come clean, it’s not borderline – it’s actually a full on addiction, or shall I say unhealthy relationship? One that has been on again off again for years now but I keep coming back to. We may have been on the outs for a few years now, but secretly I am still in love.
So while I am making confessions, I will also tell you that I recently starting seeing my stuff again, this past July. I visited my storage space searching for bits and pieces of my past to organize, scan, and document in preparation for creating my online portfolio. Upon returning to the storage space, I felt conflicted: Oh how I missed my stuff. We were so happy together– why had I left it all behind?
Looking back on the old days, my stuff and I had a great history together. Each object holding another story from a past chapter. How could I possibly give these objects up? Revisiting the memories felt overwhelming – reliving my past but also pondering a future that we could have together. Just think of what a beautiful place I might have one day with all this stuff in it!
“I should keep this futon for a home someday right? Yeah maybe for the same house that I will actually put up all 60 of these framed photographs that I made for exhibitions?”
“I remember eating off of this Raggedy Ann and Andy plate when I was 6 (30 years ago!). Hmmm…will I still be eating off of this plate in another 30 years?”
Sometimes I get lost for hours in the basement, just thinking about the past and the future. But there just doesn’t seem to be any place, space, or time for these artifacts in my current life. As much as I cherish them all, I am finding that figuring out what to do with this stuff is slowing me down and stressing me out. If I dragged the 10 boxes of my favorite books with me aboard the boat it would sink! And I have gotten really use to not wanting or needing excess things in my living space. It’s time to pare down, break up, kick the habit!
You may ask, “what is all this stuff that you keep?” and “do you really need it?” Being someone who has always felt the need to make and create, I hold on to different kinds of objects. I have very little that is valuable in a monetary way – no electronics, not much furniture and very few household items.
If you had to divide my belongings up they would live in these three territories: the land of “past creations”, the land of “future creations”, and land of “stuff I don’t want to buy again if I shall ever need it”. The land of past and future creations is currently taking up about 75% of my storage space. The rest is slowly being given away to friends who need and want the other objects.
Land of past creations
these are just a few examples of the random things that I’ve created and held onto over the years. How could I give up the wire and ribbon purse I made as a teenager or the suitcase photo book I made from my travels in Spain and Ireland and of course that paper explosion thing – that’s just too weird to get rid of right?
Land of future creations
Just a few examples of the materials that call me to creation but have been neglected, getting musty in my former basement. I can’t seem to part with the pretty paper, Halloween yarn, fabric collected from foreign countries and tiny faux golden beads – just think what COULD be made from them!
It’s finally time to free myself of the stuff. It’s my own personal challenge that I inserted myself somewhere back in Chapter 3 – when I started tracking how consumptive we all are and how every object in our lives leaves an impact on our environment. I really like the idea of having less and using less. Now the challenge is to see if I can live up to this “idea” that I like.
This leads me to confession #2. In my quest to rid myself of stuff, I feel very conflicted being asked to create new stuff every day for an entire month! At first there was great excitement… create and make every day! How refreshing, I have missed this hands on creative part of my life. Making things has always been therapeutic. What I have not missed though is the confusion of what to do with these objects once they are made. Thank goodness Wheatie built into the chapter that I would then send off these creations to others – they would then have to decide what to do with these creations not I.
So today besides making confessions, I would like to make a proposition and make a deal.
The proposition is this: I propose the continuation of creating and sharing creations daily this month. I don’t want to give up my love affair of “the making” but its time to break my addiction to “the collecting” and let go of the attachment to the made objects themselves. Is this possible?
I propose adding to Wheatie’s chapter, by challenging myself to make things this month that can be experienced, used, eaten, heard, read, played or passed on easily. Can I lighten my own storage load and not weigh down someone else with my new creations? Can I continue my love of the making while breaking my habit of collecting? Can these creations live somewhere other than my old basement or in someone else’s basement?
Can you help me with these goals? Will you join me in the making, creating and sharing? Will you help me break up with my stuff for good, make my load a little lighter? Calling all makers and creators.. will you help me part with the lost objects in the land of creations and in the land of future creations?
Let’s Make a Deal: I will be posting pictures of my stuff (things that I have made and things that are waiting to be made) on the Living Chapters Facebook page this month. If you like it, let it be known – post your request here on the blog or on Facebook. Tell me what you want to make using the object or what kind of home my creation will have. If you have a convincing story or an interesting enough trade the object is yours. I will also be posting pictures of my daily creations. Please take a peak and let me know what you think and any ideas you may have for new creations.
Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.