Time to Downsize!
Last week Stefanie and I sent our beloved cat, Sebastian, to Seattle with our equally beloved friend, Richard. Stefanie has had Sebastian since he was a kitten, so it might seem strange to suddenly ship him off to Seattle after 14 years. So why did we do this? It’s simple. Who wants to live in a 28-foot Airstream trailer with a cat…and said cat’s litter box? The answer is nobody. Not even Stefanie, and she’s had Sebastian for 14 years! We had to downsize!
Stefanie and I have been displaced for eight months now. Not to say that living with my dad is displaced, as he’s really made his home our home, but we expected to be settled into our Airstream months ago. That has given us a long time to think about exactly how much to downsize. We’ve actually been looking forward to purging ever since we decided to move into the Airstream. Especially since we’re paying monthly to store a lot of our stuff that we’re not even going to need for years! Who wants to pay a bunch of money every month just to store a bunch of stuff that you don’t even need? The answer is nobody. Or at least not us. We need to downsize!
So where to begin? It’s tough to get rid of stuff! We as humans tend to attach ourselves to stuff. But for the most part, it’s really the memories associated with that stuff to which we’re attached. When I was in college, I learned a valuable lesson from my friend, Brandon. I’d accidentally DESTROYED a very unique, one of a kind chair that he inherited from his grandfather (how I destroyed it is a whole other story). When I finally had the courage to tell Brandon about the chair, he simply laughed and said, “Beau, it’s just a chair. I don’t need a chair to remember my grandpa.” That was the one of the most profound things I’d ever heard, and it’s shaped the way I’ve felt about ‘stuff’ ever since. Along those same lines, Andrew Morrison of StrawBale.com shared with us that anytime he hesitates to get rid of a sentimental item, he simply looks at it for a minute, then takes a picture of it before tossing it in the pile of stuff to get rid of. Photographs occupy a lot less space than actual stuff, yet they can still trigger the emotional attachment we have with the things we treasure. Stefanie and I have found that we’re a lot less attached to all the stuff we have been paying to store these past eight months since we’re never around it. There are some items in there that we’d like to hang onto for when we get our home built, but the vast majority of it we can most-likely do without.
We as humans tend to attach ourselves to stuff. But for the most part, it’s really the memories associated with that stuff to which we’re attached.
One area that’s absolutely mandatory to downsize in the immediate future is wardrobe. There’s not much space in the Airstream. And there are three of us. We can’t take all of our clothes. That’s all there is to it. Over the past several months I’ve seen a few articles on how successful people have simplified their wardrobe in an effort to remove unnecessary choices throughout their daily lives. Seriously, does it really matter which pair of socks to wear? Or which color of shirt on this day versus the next day? That’s why you always saw Steve Jobs in his trademark denim jeans and black turtleneck shirt. He saved the choices he made for more important matters. When I read about that, I did downsize my clothes. I simplified…or at least began to simplify. And though I didn’t get that far, I did find that my days began a little bit more smoothly when I reduced the number of choices I had. Anytime I went through my closet and came across something I couldn’t remember when I wore last, I threw it in the Goodwill pile. But I still had a long way to go. I hadn’t perfected the system. In fact, it was far from perfected. In preparing to write this, I went through my inventory of clothes to get a count of everything. What I discovered was completely ridiculous. And nauseating:
15 pairs of pants, 104 shirts, 3 pairs of pajama pants, 4 pairs of gym shorts, 1 pair of long-johns, 44 pairs of socks, 18 pairs of undies, 15 pairs of shoes, 6 coats, 3 suits, 12 ties, 6 belts, 3 blazers and 2 vests.
Now, let me state right away that I am not a consumer whore. But apparently I’m a bit of a hoarder. 44 PAIRS OF SOCKS?!? Who needs that many socks! Nobody! My problem is that I don’t regularly discard articles of clothing that I’ve already acquired. That’s how I’ve ended up with so much crap in the closet. Sure, some of the articles of clothing serve different purposes. For example, it’s not like I have 104 t-shirts. I have some t-shirts, dress shirts, workout shirts, grubby work shirts, fishing shirts, etc. It’s important to have shirts for all occasions! But 104 shirts? Andrew Morrison has advice for this arena as well. He lives in a tiny house. Literally, a tiny house. He only has so much room for clothes. He has a rule that if he sees something that he likes, he asks himself if he likes it better than anything else he already owns. He said the answer is often no, but in the event that he does buy something new, he HAS to get rid of something else. He doesn’t have the room.
Moving into the Airstream is going to be an incredible exercise for us. We sincerely believe that living in a 28-foot long living space is going to enlighten us to how little we actually need in our lives. It’s going to be a challenging process, but ultimately a refreshing one. We’ll have to part with many things, but things don’t necessarily matter. It’s the memories we make and the people we share them with that matter. And if that’s not enough, we shipped our cat to Seattle for cryin out loud! I think we can do without a few pairs of socks.