Monday, March 5, 2012

For the love of stuff

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

-Epictetus


I recently acquired a shoe rack that hangs over the back of my closet door. It holds 36 pairs of shoes. (12 shelves, 3 pairs on each shelf). It's a bit of a tight squeeze, but I needed it because my other hanging shoe holder only held 20 pairs, and I was using a pink laundry basket in the bottom of my closet to hold the overflow.

I may have a shoe problem.

I think, maybe, it's a stuff problem in general. You see, the 36 pairs of shoes are not that mind-blowing for most, (I am, after all, a girl, who lives in a state that actually experiences all four seasons), but they are a little new for me. Always the minimalist, I've prided myself for living in a very small space with enough stuff to survive off of, and maybe just a little extra nonsense here and there. But I've maintained my image by going through my room every six months or so, and donating 3 or 4 trash bags of things that I really don't need or wear or want.

So last week, after acquiring my shoe rack, as well as a special hanger for ties and belts, and an ottoman that matches the big desk chair that hangs out in the center of my room, I was ready for a massive cleaning. I started early, putting each shoe in it's proper place. Then I moved on to the clothes in the closet, pulling each down so I could assess them and rehang. Then I moved on to my drawers. Rearranged the bookshelf space. Cleaned all the overhang from college and old New Yorkers I hadn't finished off my desk. I worked my way around my bedroom until everything had been taken from where it belonged and placed neatly in a new home, although in some cases, that new home was only feet from where it had started.

At the end of my three day excursion, my bedroom looked incredibly neat. But I was a little taken back- all I had to donate was a little box, with a few shirts and belts, and some childhood books.

Something in the back of my mind gnawed at me- why was this all I had? What was I holding on to that I really didn't need? There must be more to give away, more that I didn't need... I was getting a little too comfortable with my stuff.

So of course, I opened first to my shoe rack. There they all were, laying neatly in rows- my favorite boots on the bottom, my brown flats in the middle, next to the black felt heels that I had bought years ago and still loved. My sneakers for work sat neatly in rows closer to the top (they are not as seemly as my other shoes). I looked through all of them, and realized I didn't want to part with them because I actually wear them all.

And suddenly the picture became clear. I didn't have more to donate, because for the first time in a long time, I was using everything that I had. I hadn't made a lot of senseless purchases in the year before- everything sitting before me would be missed if it was gone.

As someone who once prided herself on needing very little, I confess to you that I'm living a different dream right now. Most minimalists don't have 34 pairs of shoes. But I've decided that if everything I have is important to me, if nothing is wasted or collecting dust, then I am alright with having it. Especially if it still fits in this little room I live in. Maybe the point isn't about not having a lot of things- it's about not having extra things, that you could do without, but are just filling holes.

I am so blessed to have all that I do. And I am happy to be using my blessings. I'd rather have a full closet of things that I wear than I have a half closet of things that I want to let go of. I'd rather utilize all that I have than have less just because I was playing a numbers game. Meaningless gestures like that lead to amazon shopping sprees for close that end up in august's donation bags.

Still, if your looking for shoes, women's size 8, I might have some you can borrow...

1 comment:

  1. Oh my... I growl when I trip over the 3 pairs of shoes I own. I can't imagine ever owning this many. But it is good that you actually use all of them. Black shoes pretty much goes with everything

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