30 December 2006

Purging

Sometimes I just want nothing. NO THING. Know what I mean? I want to hire a giant vacuum to come and suck my house empty. I want to strip myself and everything around me down to the skin and the walls and the floor, and then I want to paint. White. I've gotten that familiar feeling again today. Or rather, lately. Usually, when this desire for nothingness grips me all it takes to get over it (not that I want to) is for me to begin the heinous task of weeding out things; that's when my weaker nature kicks in and I get sentimental or nervous or forget that I live in the Abundant Universe, I get tired, I chicken out, I say: "Oh, never mind. Let's go get a movie," or whatever.

Today is a cleaning and laundry day for me. Even the wool sweaters and handknit socks are getting washed. I want to welcome the new year with more sanitary digs and a fresh closet. In the middle of my doings, Rob came downstairs and asked, "Got anything that needs to go to D.I.?" Suddenly I was ripping . . . ripping through my wardrobe and nearly living my dream to the hilt. I'm not quite naked now, but honestly, I was brutal in my purging and I actually made it through the task without losing my momentum. Too tight, too short, too loose, too old, too stupid, too drab, wrong season, too colorful, too synthetic, too much, too much, too much. How did I come to hate all of these clothes? What have I got against clothes?

I can remember a number of years ago a neighbor friend of mine, Rachel, was talking to me about how much stuff we all have, even those of us supposedly at the low end of the American food chain. She was on about the unfairness of the unequal distribution of worldy goods and how many people on the planet are truly, hard-down poor, and . . . well, you can likely imagine the rest. She had some sort of brain sizzle that sparked a blaze in her own wardrobe, and she left herself with, as I recall, a couple of dresses for Sunday, the barest minimum of interchangeable day-to-day pieces, and lots of new space in her closet. While I agreed with her noble philosophy of disengaging from the monster of consumerism, and was even eager to cut back some, her bare bones approach felt a widow's mite extreme and I just couldn't/wouldn't fall in, except in theory.

I'm closer to that ideal now, but I don't think I'll ever get there. Do I want to? Yes and no. I was in a serious relationship for four years with a spartan minimalist, capital S, capital M. The lifestyle's got its appeal, for instance on days like today when I'm sick to death of stuff and stuff and stuff's stuff and would prefer a blank canvas to start my life over again, but I don't know that my long-term nakedness is ultimately going to do me or those starving, shivering people elsewhere in the world any good. Having satisfying sufficiency while not going overboard with consumption or demands . . . or guilt . . . is likely to get me farther in the goal of helping my fellowman and maintaining my sanity and self-respect.

Anyway, I took down what was not a clothes horse's closet to begin with. I reduced it to less than 25%. I've got enough to cover me for a while. I see some holes in the wardrobe, but that's nothing that the Abundant Universe and a few thrift shopping trips can't fix, but I am not in a hurry. I'm okay with jeans and sweaters till I can round it out again, though not so plumply. I honestly do like the idea of having fewer pieces but ones that work well together, so that's what I'll aim for when I get to it.

If I wasn't so tired I might go on another purge-o-matic frenzy and empty out my house next. Anybody know where I can rent a monster vac?

16 comments:

compulsive writer said...

Love this post!

I'm tired of the time and energy drain of all my stuff. Some of the best days of my were a few spent in a two-bedroom condo at Lake Tahoe in 2005 with no more than a suitcase and a couple of duffle bags (for the kids). It was so freeing. I could use my time however I wanted because I wasn't tied down to any stuff.

I need to get in the right place--with some extra time and energy--for a purge myself.

Good on you!

Bluebell said...

Excellent timing, my dear. You have voiced parts of what I was ruminating on earlier. Just this afternoon I spent twenty minutes on my knees trying to clear the attic in my head over so much STUFF and how to focus on what is truly important. Then I had a conversation with my husband about how if our house burned to the ground, the first emotion I would feel would be gratitude for being, presumably, alive and safe, and secondly, relief to be rid of so much STUFF. I thought about an article I read probably a year or so ago about a couple who made a commitment--and kept it--not to buy anything that wasn't a necessity for a full year. They allowed themselves basic groceries and toiletries but didn't buy anything that fit in the 'want' category. I find myself continually piling up things to get rid of but it seems that as soon as I've shipped them off to the nearest thrift store we have a whole new pile of stuff. This time of year is particularly bad, what with Christmas and Owen's birthday exactly one week later and presents coming in from all sides. We appreciate the generosity but don't want any more STUFF! And it's such a war between purging and saving for Soren to grow into. Sorry for the ranting, this is getting rather long. And thanks for the inspiration.
PS-mind if I add you to my sidebar?

Geo said...

cw: Sounds nice! A Canadian singer-songwriter I used to follow recently changed her name from Jane Siberry to Issa and sold all her belongings except for "a few of [her] most glamorous clothes" and basically hit the road. All of her musical library is now available via the internet for downloading based on the honor system. You can get her music and pay nothing, the going rate, or a lot—your choice. A little part of me teehees at that, but the rest of me says with a cheer, "HEY, Jane, . . . I mean Issa, . . . I UNDERSTAND!"

Maybe if you try when you don't have time or energy it'll help you. That's how it was today for me—I saw my brief moment and attacked it without even thinking about it really and it was over before I had time to remember to run away. You have no idea how long I've been meaning to do jut this one job.

bluebell: How nice to hear from you again! That is a really enticing idea, not to buy anything but essentials all year. I will have to think on that some more. Quite a commitment, but I bet it was a fabulously liberating year for those people. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Where did you read that? Can you remember? I'd like to read it too.

I would be honored to be on your sidebar!! Thanks for asking!

b. said...

Geo...you are truly beautiful inside and out. Do you get that? It's those little moments when an opportunity creeps up and, before you know it, you're doing exactly what you thought you couldn't....perhaps small to you, but metaphorical to me.....thanks!

Emmie said...

I really admire you, Geo (and not just for the purging - you are an eminently admirable being).

Just the thought of purging my apartment makes me tired, but I know it would be so worth it. Thank you for the inspiration!

~j. said...

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Especially the "too stupid".

Eliminate the crap...I sometimes, in my mind, wander dangerously from "I want to get rid of everything" to "I'll just buy all new stuff". Not the point of is, is it? NO, no it's not.

Good for you. What a great thing to be doing.

Geo said...

b.: Now, that's the pot calling the kettle black! I think you are wonderful! I was so tickled to meet you. Got such a great feeling around you. You are full of heart and light.

emmie: (!!!) Thank you. Like Carina confessed last week, I have to practice accepting compliments graciously. Inside there's a loud ACK echoing but I'm working on muffling that. I so appreciate your good opinion, because I truly have a high one of you as well, so I will take my nice deep breath and simply say THANKS! You are so very lovely!

~j.: I KNOW EXACTLY what you mean! Rob and I both sometimes start to talk like that too--Hey, let's just get rid of everything and start all over! like that's the smartest idea in the world. That is really scary. That said, I am looking forward to the new Ikea moving in so I can finally get some bookshelves!

P.S. It is always so great to see you! Next time maybe we'll sit at the same end of the table.

compulsive writer said...

re: sitting at the same end of the table. I feel that way about you. You were right there--I probably could've reached over and tapped you on the shoulder, but I hardly got to speak with you (of course I did get to chat with ~j and hold her sweet baby!). Nor did I have a chance to get to know your SIL at all.

Next time!

Happy New Year! (I love saying that. I think I'm going to love writing 2007 on my checks, too. If I can only remember.)

Geo said...

c-dub: Blogs of the Round Table. That's what we need. No more of this being at opposite ends of the table!

I believe you and Becca would get along famously. You're both great and caring thinkers, and wonderfully articulate.

sue-donym said...

Amen to blogs of the round table. I really wish we could have visited together.

I love this entry. You articulated exactly the way I feel so many times. I wish sometimes I was amish and didn't need all this STUFF. (Well Amish and LDS still) My problem is as soon as I clean out, someone comes in my house in the middle of the night and refills it all up. Who is this person and how do I stop him (her)?

Hand knit socks? Wow.

Have a wonderful New Year!

AzĂșcar said...

Don't forget, Oh Judy will be hosting a clean sweep party in the next couple weeks. We are all to bring things, toys, clothes, and items of dubious origin to the swap. We can pick through others things to find treasures with the remainder going to DI. Hooray!

I need to clear out. I went through a brutal clothes shift a few months ago and it felt so great. Now I just have STUFF that needs to GO. The only things I can't get rid of are books. I fancy myself a collector and mini-librarian. It's ok to have one collection vice, right?

There's always Freecycle...

Geo said...

sue-donym: Hope to get another chance to chat with you! You seem like a great and spirited person!

Sounds like you've got a stuff-devil. You may have to call in an exorcist. Or borrow the monster vac after I'm through with it.

Yep, they're all Rob's "foot sweaters." Have I made myself any? No!

I wish you a lovely 2007 as well!

azĂșcar: Good thing you told me. I'm not really acquainted yet with Oh, Judy! although I mean to get that way after having met her last week. It's too bad I didn't know about this sooner, because honestly, I got rid of so much stuff. I'm sure some of it would have made somebody happy, even if some of it was weird. Dang! I was so anxious to get it out of my house before I changed my mind that it all went straight to D.I. Maybe I'll be able to purge some actual STUFF before OJ's swap-o-rama.

Books? They are almost imposible for me to part with, and I'm not even a mini-librarian. It doesn't help that when Rob and I were getting married I sold many of my books in a yard sale (in anticipation of much smaller digs) and have bitterly regretted that ever since. No, I can't blame you for hanging on.

Freecycle is an option I happily use when I have the patience to manage and arrange the transactions, and deal with the inevitable no-shows. Sometimes it's so worth it, plus it makes me feel a little virtuous, ya know.

compulsive writer said...

I'm pretty much a dump-it-off-at-DI kind of gal. Although I'm not too enamored with the local stores--too much money for way too poor of clothes--I did a tour with our YW of the humanitarian center in SLC and got a glimpse of the broader scope of its reach and I feel pretty good about just taking van load after van load.

My problem is that same guy who visits Sue's house in the middle of the night stops at my house next...

Carrotjello said...

You didn't throw out your computer, did you?

Geo said...

c-dub: If you take enough vanloads maybe you'll defeat the evildoer who visits your house in the night. Then maybe you can come over and join forces with me. That bad guy regularly gets the upper hand over me.

c-jay: You are such a funny, funny jello! (Welcome back to Bloggywood! I'm glad to know you've returned.)

Bluebell said...

Geo-can't find the article. Sorry! I think it was a featured article of the day on MSN or something like that. I seem to remember that the author had written a book about her year without buying anything and the article was an interview with her. I'll let you know if I find it.