As you might have noticed these last couple of months, I have spent a lot of time contemplating if I surround myself with too many things.
I have a rather spacious apartment that I currently mostly occupy by myself and, to list just a few of the problem areas, I presently have 14 vitrines of (collectible) books, several cupboards stuffed to the brim with nice tableware, cutlery and glasses, one vitrine with things I bought that I like to look at, anywhere between 80 and 100 meters of music (probably more), 3 huge double-door clothes cupboards (plus two smaller ones), too many photo albums packed away in 6 large moving boxes that I haven’t looked at in years, a rather large collection of magazines (mostly music) that I do look at occasionally, plus (lots!) more.
The problem is that I have grown attached to a lot of it.
It’s really schizophrenic, but, to be quite honest, very little of it I really need.
To be even more irrational, I actually like simple things, clean lines, a reduced functional approach to living.
I think I have two polar opposites sitting on my shoulders, the hoarder demon and the simple living midget. While I am attached to many of the things I have, deep down I actually want to get rid of many – if not most – of them.
The latter feeling has grown exponentially these past months.
Love, BUT …
I love the haptic quality of my books and always tell people that one should enjoy that kind of feeling when touching, smelling and reading a printed book but, in fact, I have actually read most of the more recent ones digitally since I switched to the dark side. And, although that really shouldn’t play a role in the decision, before the financial crisis I was offered a lot of money for my book collection and today I should be happy if someone takes it off my hands for free (which, presently, nobody seems really interested in doing).
I just love my music collection, but fact is that I only pull out a small fraction (the best) once in a while to enjoy it the same way I used to. When I finally managed to set up an excellently-sounding digital solution after I ripped most of what I have to my hard drives, it became much easier just to click. The music sounds just as good, if not better, and the liner notes, covers etc. are available if I need them. The latter is maybe not as easy and seamless as with a physical product, but, really, checking out needed information digitally is just a tad bit more complicated.
I have enough tableware and whatever you might possibly need to easily deck my dinner table out for 18 people but, to be quite honest, I haven’t had that number of people here for more than 10 years and when I have a few guests over, I’m too lazy to roll it all out. Still, one thinks that one day one might … and then one would … but, in the end, one never really does.
I could continue this list endlessly but, and that’s the real kicker, a lot of this stuff was accumulated at a time when it was available at much higher prices and actually also constitutes a lifetime of surrounding oneself with things one likes.
Most importantly, this is not the chaotic and cluttered environment it might sound like. Everything is neatly stored away and if you ever happen to walk in here, you probably wouldn’t have any idea how much is actually stowed away everywhere, in a sometimes almost too orderly fashion. The other day I had a good friend of mine over who said it looked almost too neat (I groaned).
Still, I know it’s all there and because I’m thinking of moving out and trying something new before I drop dead, I’m seriously considering cutting down in a major fashion … without making a mistake and losing things I might regret that I got rid off in a fit of reducing my accumulated clutter.
I got burned on that one several times. I replaced original editions of music I love with remasters … and they sucked. I got rid of books before I found out that I couldn’t get hold of them anymore, in any format. I accidentally once trashed a box-full of letters from my mom (that she spent hours, days and weeks on writing) and have regretted that ever since. And, and, and.
If you have made it this far it should have become clear by now that I’m rather conflicted about the issue. I don’t really know what I want or what I should do, but change is in the air.
All I know is that as I get older, a lot of what has accumulated around here might seriously affect decisions I make from now on. Some years from now, I simply won’t need the space any more that I have now and it would be foolish to pay for it just to lug verything around for an additional decade or two.
I have no idea if you can sympathize at all with the sentiment, but more and more often I can picture myself in a totally different living room, one without any CDs, LPs and whatnot; just a nice chair, a nice stereo and a laptop with an external drive.
My designer sofa for guests.
A flower pot.
Or an office that has shelves that are a meter high at the most, and not more than two.
Room to breathe.
Have you ever been there?
How did you do it?