A Minimalist Trapped in a Hoarder's House

A Minimalist Trapped in a Hoarder's House
By Dorothy Rosby

Help! I’m a minimalist trapped in a hoarder’s house.

I have a neat, uncluttered home. I have cleared away all the non-essential things in my life to make room for those that give me the most joy. I am a minimalist. And a liar.

What I really am is a minimalist wannabe, a minimalist trapped in a maximalist’s life. That is, if by minimalist you mean one who travels light through life. And, if by maximalist you mean one who has to clear off the dining room table to eat, so they eat on the couch instead, and they have to clear that off too.

You may wonder why, in a culture where more is better and shopping is recreation, I aspire to minimalism, as though having to clear off the couch to sit down isn’t reason enough. I’ve got plenty more:

  1. My life is a mess when my stuff is a mess and my stuff is a mess right now and has been for quite some time. It seems to me, the way to restore order to my stuff, and therefore my life would be to have less stuff—less to clean, maintain, organize and track down when it goes missing, which it often does.
  2. It would be easier to enjoy what we have if we didn’t have so darn much of it. One Christmas Eve, I watched a relative’s five-year-old daughter unwrapping gift after gift. Finally, with many more presents still in need of unwrapping, she threw up her hands and said, “Could I just play now?” I wisely refrained from telling her parents that Jesus himself only received three Christmas presents. And his mother was probably thinking, “Now what are we going to do with these?” The family was traveling at the time, after all. At any rate, the little girl understood minimalism. All those fun toys and she wasn’t enjoying any of them.
  3. We own our stuff, or our stuff owns us. If the trouble a particular item causes us outweighs the enjoyment we gain from it, it owns us. I’m reminded of this fact every fall when I spend three or four weekends raking leaves. I’m not sure if it’s my giant cottonwoods or my golf course of a lawn that owns my yard, but I know isn’t me. If any of my neighbors ever complain about my leaves, I’ll tell them to talk to the owners.
  4. More isn’t always better. More is just…well more—more for the storage unit, more for the landfill, more for the next garage sale where we’ll sell all the stuff we don’t need so that we can acquire different stuff we don’t need. In the end, we can’t take it any of it with us anyway, which is lucky, because having to haul it around for all eternity would be hell.

Dorothy Rosby doesn’t own her yard from September 1 to October 31.

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