I tend to keep things somewhat Spartan. . .
I don’t own a television or carry a cell phone. I only keep one set of dishes in my kitchen. And the bulk of my wardrobe consists of two pairs of jeans and three black t-shirts. But then I read a post from Johnny B. Truant and thought. . . I can do better.
Johny is undergoing an experiment in quasi-minimalism where he is getting rid of 10 things each day for the month of May. As I read about his experiment, I could hear echos of the infinite Fight Club loop that plays in my head about the things I own actually owning me. I relished the thought of unloading my useless crap in daily heaps of garbage can visits and thrift store donations. I began getting rid of 10 things per day immediately.
I also have an ulterior motive. I’m considering selling my home so I can be more mobile. With my income being generated online, I like the thought of moving to a new city every year or two at the end of an apartment lease. Or living in Mexico for the winter like Corbett Barr. Or traveling the world for months at a time while still taking care of business like my buddy Steve Kamb. But right now I have far too much crap in my life to be mobile. It’s time to pare things down to the bare necessities.
So here’s a little commentary on my first 10 days of getting rid of stuff. As an unexpected benefit, this experiment is also helping me clear out some emotional clutter. It turns out I’ve been hanging on to much more than just old computer monitors and rice cookers.
Throwing Out The Armory
I’ve studied various martial arts since the age of ten. And over the years I’ve collected an assortment of knives, nunchakus, throwing stars, swords, and other weapons. But I can’t remember the last time I trained with any of them. Not thinking they would be appropriate for thrift store donation, all weapons were thrown in the trash.
So Hard To Say Good Bye
It’s been over a year now since my martial arts and fitness facility went out of business. When I first shut down, I remember throwing out all of my old t-shirts with my business logo on them and how it seemed to give me some release. But when I found framed pictures of my former students and the first press coverage I received in my attic during one of my ten-items-per-day purge fests, I hesitated to add them to the day’s trash heap.
But why? Keeping these items tucked in my attic was not going to bring back glory days or cure the mistakes I made as a teacher and business owner. Placing those items in the garbage was hard, but I know it was the right thing to do.
Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
My bathroom was full of contact solution, hair pins, conditioners, lotions, and other toiletries that were remnants of ex-girlfriends. It’s hard to have an emotional attachment to contact solution and these items were easy to place in the trash. But one item was not so easy to dispose of. . .
I found an old cell phone in a drawer and I knew the only reason I was holding on to it was because there was a text message on it from her. And not just any text message, but the text she sent me that started everything. Our relationship was up and down, exciting and frustrating, and ultimately ended with her breaking off all communication between us. I haven’t seen her in over a year. I suppose I should have recycled or donated the cell phone. . . but it went in the trash.
A Tale Of Two Monks
Getting rid of ten items per day and being surprised at my emotional attachment to certain items reminds me of the following parable:
Two monks were walking down a path. These monks had taken extreme vows of celibacy and were forbidden from even looking at a woman, let alone having physical contact of any sort.
As they were walking along the path, they saw a beautiful woman standing at the edge of stream. The woman appeared afraid to cross over the water.
Without hesitation, the older monk scooped her up in his arms, carried her across the water, and set her down gently at the other side of the stream. As the two monks walked away from the woman, the younger monk was irate over the senior monk’s actions.
“How could you do that! You are certainly aware of our vows and know that we are forbidden to touch a woman, let alone pick her up in our arms, under any circumstances!”
The older monk looked at the younger monk and said, “I left the woman at the edge of the stream. Are you still carrying her?“
Do you own items that you no longer use? Are you holding on to them for reasons that no longer serve you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Be on the lookout for Part 2 of my three part series about my experience of getting rid of 10 things per day. To be notified when Part 2 of this series comes out, be sure to sign up for email updates by clicking here.