Now that I’m writing my little blog about decluttering, I keep getting sent all sorts of great books. Thank you dear publishers. I never knew that there are so many books out there about living a simpler life, cleaning up and decluttering. I could easily fill a bookshelf with them, but I shouldn’t, because I actually want to be DE-cluttering.
One of the books I received was called Stuffocation: Living More With Less by journalist James Wallman, who has written for many major US newspapers. He believes that the world is really going to change, and he talks about how people are going to spend their money more on experiences than on possessions. And that companies and manufacturers will adapt to this shift by providing more services and products that will help you with your experience, while the amount of shops that only sell stuff “to have and to show” will decrease.
According to Wallman, if you’re someone who chooses to spend their money on experiencing things rather than owning things, then you’re an “experientialist.” I thought that was a nice word. If I invite someone over to my home and offer them a seat on my scuffed up old sofa, I no longer have to worry about seeming like a pauper with a shabby interior, because now I can simply say, “Guys, don’t mind the mess, I’m just a experientialist.” Huge houses full of bling are out; sheds full of surfboards, and wallets with a museum card but no money are in.
I think it’s very sweet that, thanks to Wallman, we can be experientialists, and yet can also hold on to our stuff. I find decluttering fun, but sometimes quite awkward, because I want to enjoy my leather-bound notebook, my perfectly-perfect-bike to ride through the dunes on, or my Danish raincoat. But Wallman lets me, because these items all have something to do with experiences, and with doing things. And there’s the rub, because now I see a dangerous escape strategy and plenty of reasons to trot off to the camping store today, which is full of stuff that I love, even though I never go camping. Like a real experientialist, I buy myself a moss-green English thermos, a picnic set and a lovely windproof jacket. With no guilt attached.
Astrid, together with Irene, is the founder of Flow Magazine. She lives with her partner and two children. Each Tuesday, she writes about the senses – and nonsense – behind decluttering.