Decluttering with Astrid (18)

Let It Go

“They are not yours, you merely have them on temporary loan.” I’ve often heard this said about having children. And I suppose the same could be said for all your stuff. You only own it momentarily, as it will also continue its life without you at some point. It’s an eerie thought that crosses my mind when, for instance, I step barefoot onto a *#$@! Lego doll while tidying up (anyone and everyone who has ever had a Lego piece in their house knows just how much pain that little piece of plastic can inflict). And it’s at times like these that I think to myself, “Hey Mr. Lego man, there’ll be a time when I’m long gone and you’re still here.”

Just as with your kids, you must also let your stuff go once in a while. And funnily enough, I’m finding it easier to do so. In the past, I could spend the best part of an afternoon feeling completely miserable because a nice plate had fallen apart. And making myself feel even worse by honing in on the fact that it had been a plate I had dragged all the way back from a market in England. Now I simply think: “Oh well, at the end of the day, it’s just a plate.” But, having said that, you also have to careful that you don’t trivialize everything. Living in a house with the whole “Oh these are just bits-and-bobs” is not necessarily where I’m at, and as for my partner, he’s def-in-ite-ly not there either. Which can sometimes result in a heated discussion when I say, “Oh, it’s just…” and he retorts with “Fine! Then, we might as well just start breaking everything.”

Journalist Anneke Bots wrote a nice story about the Minimalism Game for the forthcoming Dutch issue of Flow. It’s basically a project in which, over the duration of a month, you throw stuff out every day, and each day the amount you throw out increases too. In the feature, Anneke writes about minimalist Patty Golsteijn, who managed to reduce her belongings to the contents of a couple of suitcases. Golsteijn has come to see herself as a “temporary guardian of stuff.” Which is a rather nice approach, I think. It gives another dimension to property, making life easier when it comes to throwing things out. It puts the whole “hassle with stuff” into perspective. If you look at it that way, it is rather a waste of time and money to be spending so much time and money on all that “stuff”. You’d be much better off spending it on having fun.

Astrid is, together with Irene, the founder of Flow Magazine. She lives together with her partner and has two kids. Every Tuesday she writes about the sense and nonsense of decluttering.

“Week 18 – Let It Go”