on making all the things...or else

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Maybe it's just my perception.

I mean, I admit that sometimes, the way I see things is profoundly skewed by what I'm thinking about/focusing on at the time.  If I'm looking for blue cars, I'm going to see a lot of blue cars, because I'm paying attention to blue cars.  For instance, et. al..

But I do think it's safe to objectively say that I have a lot of stuff.

(Or at least a lot of stuff by my standards.)

I've talked about this before.  And I will say that after several months (err...years...)  that it's much less stuff than before, and much more mindful stuff than ever before in my adult life.  (I was a big believer in the whole if it's cheap/free, why not take it home?  I can totally make something out of this, right?)

::sigh::

But when I step back and really look, I have a lot of stuff, still.

More notebooks than I could possibly use in a year, possibly two.  More books than I could comfortably read in a year or two or three (even at my breakneck reading speed).  More art supplies, more ink, more paper, more paint.

Yesterday, I was kinda looking at it all and realizing that I love what I have left.  I kept only things I either actively use or really, really superlove.  Some of it might be a little aspirational -- books that give me the how-tos for things I totally want to do when I have time, or fabric that's totally going to go into that quilt I'm seeing in my head.

For some people, those aspirational things would be a problem, by the way.  I get that.  There aren't many of them here, though, and honestly...I have a tendency to spontaneously Do All The Things, without peering over the precipice before I jump in with both feet and wondering just exactly how far down this chasm goes anyway.  It's served me well in the past, since there are lots of things I'd never have had the guts to start doing if I'd bothered to see just what I was getting myself into.  Some turn out okay, some are learning experiences.  They're all good, though.

But I digress.  Shocker, I know.

I sort of decided that I need some criteria, because my Stuff level is reaching an uncomfortable fever-pitch for me.  I'm nowhere near Hoarders-level or anything.  You won't find any mummified cats or stacks of old mail or spider webs that are so thick you could use them for hammocks.

Just a level of Things To Do that's uncomfortably long for my taste.

And since I already purged the heck out of most of my stuff, I thought I could play a little game with myself: USE X BEFORE BUYING Y.  Or: Use What You Have.

I made lists.  I do that.

For everything I own that's entertainment or education-based, I made a list.  Most of them looked like, "If I use up half my existing XYZ (# here), I can buy that thing I want, or something I want at the time of the using-up, but not before."

And it seems to be working.  It definitely feels good to be clearer about what's really here, and how long using it will really take.  (I have 32 blank journals.  If I fill one a month -- which I do -- then it's going to take almost three years to go through them.  Suddenly, buying that stack of them on clearance at Staples doesn't seem so appealing.  That kind of thing.)

It's also vaguely disheartening because I know there will be things I want in that time frame, or that no longer fit me because it was purchased three years ago.  It's much like my book buying revelation: if I buy for the future, I'm robbing future me of what I will love then and forcing future me to stay static in now me's idea of what's fun to use.  In some cases, that's okay; my needs won't change much over time.  But in others, I'm making a broad assumption that the type of pens I use and enjoy now will be the only ones I'll ever find that will work for me, or nothing new will come out that's an even better fit for the way I like to work.

I've gotta stop imposing Now Me's will onto Future Me's life.

My purging's part of that.

Plus side, I'm doing a lot of things again.

I had some time there where I felt like I was spinning my wheels a little.  Nothing seemed to fit or work right or feel right.  (Other folks with depression will understand -- it's that vague feeling of not rightness that just hangs around and sucks out all your joy.  Depression is a bastard.)

Now, I've stopped saving things for Someday, again.  I'm trying things now, even if I don't think I have the skills yet or whatever.  

Because, really, how do you learn skills if not by doing?  Duh, self.  Welcome to basic facts 101.

So my pacts with myself are in place.
They may stick around; I may end up seeing shiny things and blowing them off.  But they're serving their purpose at the moment -- getting me to cut through some inertia and use some of that stuff that's piled up and waiting.  

That's all I can ask for.

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© G O * E X P L O R I N G Maira Gall.