ww: Clarity.

A big part of my wander weeks is just...thinking.

It's thinking about things that I don't have a lot of time or energy to think about when I'm doing Other Things.   Thinking about adventure or the spirit thereof.  Thinking about lightening my load, both personally and my footprints.  It's watching the world around me and having the ability to take a deep breath and actually see it rather than rushing by it at the speed of light.

For some reason, this week, that's led to what can only be called a clear-out of epic proportions.

I really don't know how I managed to amass this much crap in two years.  Two years ago, I was sitting on a futon mattress at my mother's house, boggling at the fact that we went from a house full of stuff to us, the dogs, and the clothes on our back in four minutes.  I had the stuff in my purse, thankfully (IDs and credit cards and such...things that aren't hard to replace but which are a pain in the patootie to replace in a reasonable timeframe.), and the iPad that I'd grabbed to read in the dentist's office lobby.  (I still boggle at the timing the tornado had.  Even an hour later and we'd have been in that house, too.)

Cut scene of drastic, unplanned minimalism to now.  

My studio's full of stuff with which to make other stuff.  My bookshelves are stuffed to bursting.  I did already clear out my insane stockpile of toilet paper and canned tomatoes, once I realized some sneaky PTSD was turning me into an involuntary prepper, but the part of my brain that buys dental floss and deodorant every time I'm at the store apparently didn't get the psychological memo.  We will not discuss the sheer volume of blank journals I have, because I'm actually embarrassed about the height of that stack.

(Fine.  It's up to my chest.  And I'm not a short girl.  Told you it was embarrassing.)

When this wander week started, I was already in the beginning throes of Consumer Rejection Seizures.

I'm not sure what set it off this time.  Maybe it's that the weather's finally starting to cool off from another long, hot, uncharacteristically-dry northwest summer.  Maybe it's just that I looked around and could not find the floor as easily as I should have been able.  Maybe it's random alien mind control.


The point is that there comes a point for some people,  I think, where they look around and realize that enough has tipped the scales of too much, and there's a sudden overwhelm that can not be denied.  And my scales tipped.  I started looking around at what I actually use vs. what I want to use.  I didn't like what I saw.

So I threw things out.

Or, rather, I've set many of them aside to donate, because none of this stuff is older than two years.  (With the exception of used books and such.)  Someone who needs a book to read may be pleasantly surprised/chuffed to have some of them, and such.  I'm hacking and slashing and reading the ends of things that I abandoned earlier (probably for something more shiny, to be honest), and my goal, if I'm completely transparent about the whole thing, is to be able to fit just a few books into a box and have that be enough. 

I'm not even close to that yet.  But it's a good goal for me.

I mentioned on Facebook that there are two categories of things that are hard for me to get rid of.

These are:

  1. Fiction books I haven't read yet.  Despite the fact that I have roughly four billion of them to be read.  I buy fiction with the intention of reading them once and passing them on, since I mostly read for entertainment.  We will also not discuss how high THAT pile is, even with my reading weeks' frenzied devouring of pages.  (Hint: it is higher than the stack of blank journals.)  and,
  2. Things that I think reflect or represent my identity.
It's this second one that I'm wrestling with right now.

How do you express who you are if you don't have stuff to do it for you?  The books on your shelves tell a story of who you are.  The clothes you wear, what's in your house, the art on your walls.  All of it makes visible the parts of you that make up you, right?

If those things are gone, what does that mean about you?

You'd think I'd have better perspective on this after already clean-slating it not all that long ago, but I really don't.  I'm reluctant to get rid of things that make me look smart, or deep, or cool, or interesting...probably because of some secret fear that I'm none of those things.  I'm just this dorky little thing bumbling through life like an inflatable pool noodle.  If I don't have things to tell people that I'm worthy, or successful, or cool, then it's up to me to live in a way that expresses those attributes.

And, frankly, that's terrifying.  

Behind the OMG if I get rid of all the art supplies, then what will I even DO all day? panic (which is largely unfounded since I wouldn't get rid of ALL the art supplies, ever, anyway, but my rebellious inner voice is a little bit of a dramatist), I think that's really the fear.  That I won't be seen correctly without external indicators of who I actually am.  I'll be misunderstood, or worse, unseen.

I mean, I'm way too lazy to have to communicate that to everyone who sees me.  It's much easier to just have things that speak for you.  The right book, the right watch, the right pen....all subtly telling others that I am this.  I belong to this tribe.  I am.

It's not stopping me from getting rid of things yet.

I'm still planning on burning through all the things in my life that aren't essential and functional and, yes, to get all Marie Kondo on the situation, which bring me joy.  

I'm just interested to see what will be left.  How it will feel to voluntarily have only the most essential of things.  What kind of living that opens up for me, mentally, physically, spiritually.

More space to wander, most likely.  And more space when the wanderer comes home to rest.


  1. It's like you're in my head, today. I'm purging things, right now, too. I need and want a lot less than what I have. I am struggling with letting go of items that seem to communicate "me" to myself. Yes, even the ones I haven't used in years. Thanks for writing it all down, and letting me know that I am still not alone. With love from CO.

  2. I know I'm a hoarder. I have had to work VERY hard to learn to let go of things, and not keep things I really don't need. It's very hard. I've got that mindset like, well I could use it for this, or what if I want to wear it for that, etc. But once I let go, I feel better, and I can't think of anything that I cleaned out and got rid of that I miss or have needed after the fact.