Christine picked ‘Simplicity’ for this week’s word – a lovely word for a fresh new year – ‘with no mistakes in it yet’ as Anne of Green Gables might say.
This might be why I picked this book up when I was at the library this morning:
I already have quite a few books on decluttering (yes, my irony sensor went off there, too) but I suppose the good thing about library books is that they are only a temporary addition to the house. I seem to be fighting clutter and excess a lot and often wish for things to be simpler.
Some of the clutter in my life comes as a side effect of the positives. Two small children bring with them brightly coloured plastic, drawings, interesting pebbles and all sorts of things – as well as acting as very effective emulsifying agents on other people’s belongings – and some of the other clutter comes from the various interests we have; the making, the mending, the reading, the sketching, the planning – all of them require, and result in, things that need a home. And of course, Christmas results in more gifts and books and interesting cards I can’t bear to throw away…
But there’s also the other stuff. The bits and bobs that never seem to be anywhere other than in the way. The well-meant gifts that I actually don’t want. The continual drifts of paper that settle everywhere as soon as my back’s turned. The fact that children’s toys seem to come with so many bits which seem impossible to keep together. (By the way, please, as an eternal favour to the cosmos, never give fuzzy felt to a child under five. Their parents will not thank you when they’re fishing it out of every concievable place. We packed up the fuzzy felt months ago, but it’s still turning up. Every single day.) I have managed to declutter quite a lot since this time last year, but there’s still more to do.
I think that a lot of my striving for simplicity comes from my Quakerism; we have a testimony to simplicity – that a simple life, freely chosen, is a source of strength – and it’s true that having more than I can use does feel bad for my soul. However, unlike a lot of Quakers, I’m not temperamentally given to minimalism (in fact, an ex of mine coined the term ‘maximalist’ to describe my usual aesthetic*) Although I can appreciate the aesthetic qualities of calm, uncluttered, neutral spaces I wouldn’t want to live in one. Books, pictures, throws, cushions, odds and ends, sparkle, texture, and colour, colour, colour: that’s what I need. But minimalism is just one kind of simplicity. I strive for a different sort – where my home is based on the William Morris principle and contains only things I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Where I can find the things I need without turning over the house. Where I feel I have the space to do things, to think, to breathe, and room for new knowledge and new ideas. Where I don’t feel guilty about the vast amounts of stuff I have accumulated.
To that end, I try to consume less, to reuse or rehome before I recycle and recycle before I discard. My home will always be busy and noisy and colourful, because I am busy and noisy and colourful, but I hope that eventually, it’ll be simple as well.
Go and visit Christine to see who else has played this week!
*as a side note, on our first date, Mr S&S decided that I, with my compulsion to read the back of bus tickets if there’s nothing else, suffered from the opposite of dyslexia, and diagnosed me with hyperlexia.