I’ve been a hoarder all my life. Born out of insecurity, I wanted to stock all the stuff I wanted to. This, “What if I don’t have money tomorrow? Let me buy all I need to survive in this apocalyptic world” insecurity has been the driver to my consumption. New book? Buy it (even though I have 20 others to read), new CD? Buy it (before it goes out of stock), New clothes? Buy them. I piled, piled & piled stuff away. Then, came the problem of organizing and maintaining. CDs needed stands & pouches, clothes needed cupboards and so did all the other stuff I was buying. Then CDs gave way to DVDs which gave way to Blurays; Books to Kindle ebooks; Old clothes to new. Now, when I enter my room I find a CD I did not listen to, a book did not read, a shirt/trouser I did not use – all unmet commitments, not to mention clutter. But, fuelled by consumer culture (more is good) and lured by sexy advertisements I continued buying more. ’Till I took over more responsibilities.
When money became scarce to dispense on my frivolities, enough to fund only a few activities, 4–5 hobbies gave way to 1–2. I started to question if I really needed that before I bought anything. Though the situation arose out of need, it made sense. ’Cause, wherever I looked in my room I found something I did not do justice to. I knew there was no point in spending and was glad to have my money supply cut. I from then started limiting myself to a few critical activities than amassing junk and regretting later. I started using 3 questions to determine what to do:
What do I value? I took the ‘let-me-have-all-I-need-to-survive-in-this-apocalyptic world’ insecurity and turned it on it’s head. I questioned myself, If I was really caught in an apocalyptic world, what would I really miss? whom would I miss? I made a list and shockingly, the list was small. I didn’t need all the stuff I thought I wanted nor miss all the people I thought I’d miss. So, why was I spending a lot on the stragglers?
How much time do I have? What can I realistically include in my schedule? Will I be able to spend enough time to do justice to it? Given the time constraint, what do I want to accomplish? Again, the list was small. Reading, writing, gaming, spending time with a few from family & friends took precedence over everything else.
What needs to be best? Most of my spending arouse from this thought. I wanted the best. Whatever I held, it was supposed to be the best. But, ‘the best’ seldom came cheap. And, was I ready to put-in the extra efforts to get the best of all? Was it really worth it? But, what if I chose to have ‘the best’ of only the stuff I use regularly? And, ‘good enough’ of the rest? Will it make any difference? I stopped buying the best in class and make do with ‘good enough’ stuff for the different chores in my life. I didn’t feel big difference. I limited ‘the best’ to the items I use regularly only. (Make a list of items you think you use regularly, and those you actually use regularly. You’ll know the difference).
When this minimalistic bug bit me, I thought it’ll be a fad, I’ll return back to my routines. But, I didn’t. I still use the 3 questions, even when I have money. I don’t think I will go back to my past spend-thrift ways. ’Cause I know that the more I take on, the more pressurised I become to fulfil the commitments and maintain the hygiene of the product/relationship. I do not have the strength or patience to do either of them. So, I’ve limited myself to a few and let go a lot. Now, I find peace in letting go. The more I hold on to, the more the responsibility. The less I have, the more the freedom. With freedom comes liberty to walk the path we dreamt of. All starts with keeping things simple.