There’s nothing like seeing all your belongings parcelled and packed into a lorry to make you think about your relationship with the things you own. We were paying people to transport these things across counties. I had to ask the question: were they worth it?
Our marital homes have not followed the typical trajectory. Rather than expanding with every move, we have instead downsized at each turn. This has not been a years-ahead plan that we articulated to ourselves. It was a decision for the next moment, taken at the reshuffling of the deck. It’s just worked out that way.
But I’m glad that’s been the journey. With this last move we lost a loft and a Harry Potter cupboard*. With the exception of the kitchen, this new flat offers us just walls and floors. Everything we own, we can now see. There’s no dusty corner hiding forgotten items from the sunlight.
So we sorted, and we redistributed, and we recycled. There’s still a little way to go on the paperwork, but aside from that we are at a point where everything in our home is here because we want it to be. This feels like both radical living and just common sense, all at the same time.
I wrote around our last move about how I was using William Morris’ principle for decluttering guidance:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
In its application, I struggled sometimes. And though, I’m not sure I’m really in the position to caveat his words, I’ve made a couple of amendments for my own use:
For example, I still believe that a particular pair of shoes are beautiful but my husband has never seen me wear them in all our years together. Because I never put them on anymore. I’m not appreciating their beauty, though I recognise it. So I gave them away; someone else can enjoy them now and my cupboard is six-inches emptier.
I think it’s not enough to just know the aesthetic or practical potential of an item. There should be some level of interaction and engagement with our belongings. Without that, we risk our lives and our homes bloating with flotsam that drifts to the corners and stays there for years.
I’m mindful of the word ‘again’ in this blog post title. I think some element of sorting is ok as your life, your style, your habits change. Moving house is a sensible time to do that. But, though I’m not much of a shopper, I am wary of the potential cycle of accumulation and shedding. I think this idea of interaction helps; considering before a purchase not just, ‘Is it useful? Is it beautiful to me?’ but ‘Will I actually use it? Will I actively enjoy its beauty?’.
I saw a quote on Twitter a while I go that stayed with me: “Nothing haunts us like the things we didn’t buy…”. I think I’d rather regret a missed purchase than live under the shadows of belongings that I can’t vocalise why I hold onto. What about you?
*The cupboard under the stairs.
Today’s soundtrack: Rod Ladgrovet // Home is just a state of mind