• Gisèle Schembri

Cleansing Home - For Peace Of Mind

These past couple of weeks I have done a lot more decluttering. Initially, there was a reason behind the urgency to go through my home more thoroughly and removing what is superfluous to my life. In fact I must admit I even removed some items I had been using, as I feel I can do without. The reason was that I might have been moving from my current rental to a smaller flat and so decreasing my worldly possessions would have been paramount. When it was decided I would still keep making my current rental a home for the near future, I did step back and remove some things from Marketplace that I will be needing still. Big items such as my trusted very good vacuum cleaner and my microwave cannot leave my home as I actually do use them. The relief of having such items already at the new flat was minimal compared to the relief I felt that no one had bought my stuff yet when I realised I will still be needing them!!

Which brings me to today’s topic. There are two types of people in this world. Those who keep everything in case they might need it one day, and those who give away everything to live in the now. As always, extremes aren’t often useful in the long term but I have to admit that I have a hard time being moderate in anything I do, maybe due to that I am such a passionate person and will either love or hate something rather than finding middle ground most of the time.

I will not go into the merits or pitfalls of having such a mindset as mine. Instead this is to discuss why even those of us who opt to live a life with less, even should it mean eventually having to re-buy things we have sold else given away, have a reason for doing this and no, the reason is not money to spare!

Admittedly, older folk who have been through The Depression or those people coming from a background of lack, have a harder time with not hoarding stuff ‘just in case’. Others actually state that the moment they let something go is the moment just before they find out they need it again. So why are there those of us still intent on letting go of things even when we have the space for them?

The reason, as odd as it may sound, is peace of mind. Whilst some have peace of mind for knowing they have all they need close by, there are others of us who feel bogged down by clutter or full cupboards and live more joyously when they see empty spaces around. The mind craves space, especially as it tends to register everything around us even unknown to us and is all the time trying to process a million and one things.

I have in the past given the example of viewing the cost of a book as the cost for a service. In my opinion, when I buy a book, I part with the money in view that I will get some hours of reading from the item I have received. Once read, the book, unless a reference guide, will have served its purpose once and for all. So rather than thinking that I should keep said book for having parted with, say, EUR10, I instead think that I have spent EUR10 on the service of a few pleasure-some hours of reading rather than on coffee and cake from the café. This lets me rest easy when I decide to declutter my book shelves every once in a while.

As I stated above, I am relieved that no one bought my vacuum cleaner in the couple of weeks that I thought I was moving somewhere else, because I would have eventually missed it and have had to fork out money to get another one. That said, it still felt good to have parted ways with some of my lunchboxes, the bigger colander that I rarely use and some other items such as extra mugs. Looking at my home with the view of packing and moving made me realise just how many things I was daily surrounded with that were taking up space I could otherwise use for other items I actually wanted. Such as, kitchen cupboard space to buy multiples of items from the supermarket, therefore saving me from having to waste the time and petrol to go to the store more often.

The Minimalists have a rule. I believe it goes something like ‘get rid of any item you are not using that costs less than USD20 to replace and is easily bought again not more than 20 minutes away from home’. They call it the 20/20 Rule.

When I first read about it, I argued in my head that it was not feasible to do so when I wasn’t really making extra money to allow for such frivolity. In time, over years of decluttering and always finding more peace with less, it occurred to me that so rarely is it the case that I would actually need to rebuy something, that it is well worth the cost, for the peace of the space around me and no overflowing cupboards I wouldn’t be able to open or get stuff out of without having everything topple out of them.

As I said in the beginning, there are two extremes, as well as obviously the happy middle. Whilst I have no objection to the happy middle and some people seem content with their life of ‘less’ items and more experience, I do encourage those out there who hold onto every possible item they own but not use, to truly look at their life carefully and see if their time (spent tidying, dusting, repairing), and space (including the cost of living in a bigger space to accommodate said items), could be put to better use.


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