Simple. Difficult? 


by Karen Newcombe

Simplicity isn't necessarily easy to achieve these days. 

My goal is to regain time in my life for more writing, so I seek to reduce distraction, clear my living space enough that my creativity has more breathing room – so that my space is restful and my reduced roster of belongings easy to maintain. In both a literal and figurative way, I want to get things out from under foot. 

So far I've filled my giant recycling bin three times over just with papers from my office. Old work files and projects, stacks of business magazines, boxes of business cards and stationery from previous jobs – out. 

A preliminary dip into the closet has netted for charity a large moving box and a giant bag of good condition clothes I never wear, plus a completely unused set of bed linens that I don't like. Perhaps I bought the set on clearance and couldn't pass up the price; I honestly can't remember. 

I've been shuffling this unused bag of linens from closet to closet for a couple of years, planning to use it in the guest room, or see if it looks better out of the bag. I've never done either. Today, I think I've spent enough of my life on this particular thing.  Now I'm impatient to get rid of it – I'll be driving to Goodwill right after I finish this to drop off this first shipment of stuff. 

Clothes are harder. It can be tough giving up something that was a gift, even if you've never worn it. You remember opening the gift, how happy your friend was to be giving you something they picked out, and the sentiment gets in the way of passing the unworn sweater on to someone else. Our memory is so fragile, what if we don't remember the moment of the giving if we let go of the gift? 

When I run across these things that carry sentimental value but no longer fit in my life, I'm going to take a picture and then let the thing go. When I flip through iPhoto next month or next year, I'll see it pass by on the screen and still have the memory, but I don't need to keep the objects anymore. 

None of this is an easy process. Getting rid of things – simplifying – seems to initially result in a big mess. There is is a huge pile in the hallway waiting to go to charity. I have file drawers standing open and a mass of papers I'm working my way through – keep, toss, shred. A box destined for the special recycling center is filling with old electronics, rechargeable batteries and broken cell phones. 

For the moment, the mess is worse instead of better. But I feel like I'm getting somewhere. 

Photo credit: Gorupka / Foter / CC BY

© Karen Newcombe 2014