Sweeping Generalizations.

6 Dec

Fifteen days until the Woolf-Manas’s hit the road and head to Charm City.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the last time I lived down there, in the summer of 2012 while interning at the Baltimore Sun. It was awful. I lived in a dirty apartment with zero furniture aside from a bed, a folding table and a giant stuffed lion Ari won me at Six Flags that I used as my couch.

I knew no one in the town, I rarely ventured outside my neighborhood for fear of wandering into ‘stab city’ as my coworker called parts of the area she thought were dangerous. I worked Tuesday-Thursday and as soon as Friday came I would drive right back to NYC. I only explored the city ONE time and that was when my mom came to visit and asked me to show her around.

But there was something that sparked my interest that summer. I was procrastinating some task (my main job was to research and collect info about all the events taking place in Bmore into one database – I fully understood the irony of knowing about exactly every hot and happening thing in the city and going to 0.0 percent of them) and stumbled into a rabbit-hole which led me to an article about how horrible the working conditions are for the people who make H&M clothing. I dug deeper and deeper into the world of sweatshops and fair trade and factories overseas. It’s terrible. And sad. Ultimately I came across a site about minimalism – a lifestyle where you have a very limited number of belongings which will lead to hopefully, a more intentional life, uncluttered by material objects.

I loved it. I vowed NEVER TO BUY ANYTHING AGAIN. 

That lasted three weeks. When I needed a new dress for my engagement party.

It just wasn’t sustainable. I love to shop. It’s a bonding activity for me and my mom, and me and my friends. I love decorating my home with fun things. I love finding treasures at thrift stores or better yet, from the sidewalk or book-share. In the back of my mind however, I occasionally thought back to the one week where I was SURE I could live off a few T-shirts, a couple of books and my laptop. It never happened.

After my last post where I talked about how getting rid of Facebook has led me to get rid of other unnecessary items, I actually borrowed The Magic of Tidying Up. I didn’t just read the article with the bullet points! And now I kind of understand why it didn’t work the first time.  Five years ago, I eschewed material items out of guilt for how they’re made. I wanted a pat on the back for being socially conscious without actually doing anything. And my little shopping-strike barely lasted a month (in the words of our “esteemed” president: Sad!)

After actually reading more about minimalism, I understand that it’s a conscious and intentional choice-filled lifestyle. It’s not about getting rid of stuff but purposefully choosing to KEEP the stuff you truly care about. And I’m not making any grand promises but I’ve been going through the apartment in the way KonMari lays out and it’s amazing how much stuff I’ve steadfastly been holding onto because it was free, or expensive, or a gift, or from a relative, or a souvenir, or a wedding gift. I wasn’t keeping it because I LIKED the item for what the item was. Things are not people. A necklace from my mom is just that, a necklace. It’s not the relationship in and of itself. Once things outlive their purpose (and sometimes that purpose is to make me happy for a few days and maybe be worn once) it’s time to let them go. (Also, I don’t need trinkets from my mom. I literally have her exact facial features so it’s not like I can ever not be reminded of her).

I’m not going to make outlandish promises this time. I am not going to pat myself on the back. I’m not even gonna pat myself on the back for not patting myself on the back!

I am going to donate a shit ton of stuff to Goodwill and hope that someone else will get a happy day out of a new necklace like I had the chance to.

 

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