Recently when I was rereading a favourite fantasy novel, A Wizard of Earthsea, I was struck by a particular passage. The main character, a young boy, is leaving the village in which he grew up:
Ged fetched what he had to carry, which was the good bronze knife his father had forged for him, and a leather coat the tanner's widow had cut down to his size, and an alder-stick his aunt had becharmed for him: that was all he owned besides his shirt and his breeches. He said farewell to them, all the people he knew in all the world, and looked about once at the village that straggled and huddled there under the cliffs, over the river-springs. Then he set off with his new master through the steep slanting forests of the mountain isle, through the leaves and shadows of bright autumn.
Ged lives in a pre-industrial world filled with poverty and hunger, and yet when I read that passage, I envied him. I don't really want to own nothing but a knife, a jacket, a walking stick, and the clothes on my back, of course--and yet...how free it would feel to not be encumbered with any possessions, to able to leave on a new adventure at any moment, to be free as a bird.
I think in the back of my mind, I often desire that feeling of soaring free, because I have placed photos and artwork of birds around the house. I have always been enamoured with birds. Chris, for his part, has covered his workshop walls with artwork of air planes. I wonder if we both feel the same way?
I can soar as a bird in my imagination, with no stuff to worry about or drag me down, but of course I need to keep my feet grounded in reality as well. With a family of 5, soon to be 6, we do have material needs. Aside from the regular things that everyone needs, we have a business that requires tools, and since I homeschool we need some books...Okay, I have a lot of books, many of which I truly love and would never let go. I have no plans to give everything we own away. Yet, I have found over the years that without even trying, we always end up with more things than we really need.
As I mentioned in this post that in December, I enjoy going through our possessions and rethinking what is important to us and what is not. This feels appropriate to me this time of year. Christmas inevitably brings new possessions which I need to make room for. And in winter we spend much more time inside the house. Our house is small, and I don't want it to start feeling cramped with things we don't really need.
As well, although we have no plans to suddenly up and leave our birthplace like Ged, yet we know this is not our permanent home. We really want, hopefully sooner rather than later, to find greener pastures (literally). I don't know when our move will occur or how. We have sometimes talked not so jokingly of just picking up one day, sticking all our stuff in a rented truck, and just driving until we end up somewhere that feels like home. I don't know what we will do, but I do sense some kind of adventure in our future, and I don't want to be encumbered with a lot of extra stuff when we do finally decide to get out of this city house.
It's amazing when I make an effort to declutter, how many things I can cast off. Back in December I threw out a large portfolio of artwork I had done in highschool which I no longer felt sentimental about. (The only thing that survived was the monochromatic bird painting pictured above, which I placed next to my sewing machine.) Last week I gave a few bags of assorted items to the thrift shop. I have a large box of baby boy clothes and a bag of vintage sewing patterns I won't be selling in my shop sitting by the front door waiting to be picked up. And some more things in the car waiting to be donated. Today I cleaned out our linen closet and removed some old, pilled, gross things to be tossed--including some tacky, faded sheets for a double bed. We don't even have a double bed, why was I keeping those? And I feel so happy about this. I love removing excess things from our home. Each time a bag goes out the door, I breathe a bit easier.
I think next I will go through the computer desk--we are hoping in the future to replace our ancient clunker of a PC with a much smaller laptop, and replace this enormous old corner desk with a smaller desk to save space. So it wouldn't hurt now to start going through the stuff crammed in this desk--old computer games, road maps, binders, DVDs, photo paper, notebooks...I'm not even sure all of what is here!
I apologize for the long, rambling post. I just wanted to share my thoughts on decluttering today. I wonder if anyone loves getting rid of stuff as much as I do?