Thursday, January 30, 2014

Is Minimal More?

It's always wonderful when, as a graduate student, my classes work together SO well that each bleeds into another and the messages constantly cross paths.  This semester, I am lucky enough to be learning about fun topics like biblical texts of transformation, topics in preaching in the 21st century, and mussar (a Jewish ethical and moral personal development practice).  Well...they're fun if you're in rabbinical school and like these kinds of things!

I have never been one to declutter my life in any way.  I am always messy, almost always disorganized in some way, and always feeling like I need to clean and declutter the major areas of our house. I'm also terrible at getting rid of things and have always looked up to my sister who has always been much better at letting go of belongings.  Well, when I decided to change my eating choices, I also started to scrutinize all of my other belongings.

Do I really need that leather briefcase that I LOVE so much?  It was the first big purchase I made when I had a read job and I bought it in hopes of using it constantly in rabbinical school.  I did a ton of research and found a company with a 100 year warranty and I really do love that thing.  I know, it's weird to love objects but I just admire its workmanship and beauty so much. I decided that since it no longer suited my needs for school AND it is leather, which no longer suits my ethical living, I would sell it.  I went back and forth at first...should I sell it?  But I love that thing!  But it doesn't work anymore and I don't feel good using it!  But what if I change my mind????

I found a friend who had been looking at these very briefcases online for some time.  He agreed to pay a hefty amount (they really keep their value since they're so well made and have such a good warranty) and I finally let go of the bag.  I knew it was the right decision, but that choice to let it go was hard.  I replaced it with a messenger bag that is big enough to hold everything I need and is made of canvas so I feel better using it.  Do I miss my leather bag?  No. I am glad to have sold it so it will be used and loved.  I feel great with my new bag and learned the most valuable lesson of all: things do not need to be loved because they will never love me back.

I was proud to be able to buy that bag and when I used it for a while, I loved the compliments I would receive on its behalf.  I don't need it though.  It wasn't right for my lifestyle and I hope its new owner will love it to its 100 year death.

So...then I was left with a big question mark about all the other superfluous THINGS in my life.  Do I really need all these books?  Some are essential as a rabbinical student, I can't just give my set of mishnah away but those random books a professor gave me to read when she was cleaning out her office?  They got the boot.

Slowly, I have been pruning back possessions.  That iPad case that's been sitting around the house JUST IN CASE we need it some day?  Gone.  The leather card case I used as a wallet for a few years but then traded out recently for a non-leather one?  Also donated.  Clothes I forgot were in my closet?  You get the idea.

And it feels very freeing.  I can let go of these items because I know I don't need them and if I ever DID need an iPad case?  We would buy one.

My venture into a more minimalist lifestyle has been guided by two blogs: Becoming Minimalist and Zen Habits.  Now, these gents are true minimalists.  I don't know if I'll ever get there but I am going to use their advice and writing to help me get a heck of a lot closer!  Some of the minimalist bloggers out there live with less than 100 items in their whole life!  I'm truly fascinated and in awe of their style.

I am excited to start making decisions to keep only what I truly need and discard the rest.  So far, my closet is cleaner, I actually have some room on my bookshelf, our house is looking a little less cluttered and I just feel better knowing that I'm donating things I just don't need anymore.

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