These days both my brain and my calendar seem to be overflowing - with events, tasks, projects. Some of them are things that I want to do, that are there on purpose, and others are just the mundane tasks that are central to keeping everything else humming along (paying bills, working on taxes, making appointments). Chances are, you're in the same boat - the older I get, the more I feel this way. The idea of a finished to do list is an oxymoron, right?
This is not to say that it's all bad, but I've been feeling a little stuck lately, a little overloaded. I've been running through my mental list, trying to figure out what things I can drop from it. And, not surprisingly, there isn't much that fits the bill.
All of this has had me thinking the past few days about what it means to keep a simple home, and why one matters to me. A few years ago, I began slowly working on simplifying my belongings. At first, the motivation to decrease the amount of things I own stemmed from my sense of environmental responsibility - wanting to make sure I wasn't holding on to things that could be useful to other people, that I was letting them go so they could have a second life. When I started the process, I felt a little skeptical about the idea of minimalism in general. I think these days there's a tendency to gush about minimalism and all it can do. Letting go of possessions, I read over and over again, helps one find deeper happiness, learn to be more grateful, find a richer life. That seemed to me to be a lot to expect from decluttering. But, as I've slowly found, the heart of the matter isn't about decluttering or really even about the things you own - instead, it's about striving for a more intentional life, one defined more by living and doing than it is by owning and caring for objects.
Despite my now downsized home and sock drawer, I'm still the same person I was. I still find myself needing to work daily towards being more grateful, and I still haven't found the time to meditate consistently like all those zen minimalist photographs implied. Yep, could have seen that one coming a mile away :) However, slowly I've found that I have been reaping the rewards of minimizing.
Where these benefits appear most clearly is in the practice of keeping my home. When my to do list is a mile long and I wish my brain could stop whirring, it's nice to know that all of my laundry can be put away in five minutes flat, that I can sweep my floors in four, that I can put all of the detritus of life that slowly creeps out of drawers away in ten. After a busy weekend, I can spend twenty minutes on Sunday evening setting things to rights, and that's that; then I can move on to other activities, ones that matter more. Letting go of excess possessions has helped my home function with an efficiency I've come to rely on. Owning less and living in a smaller space mean that I can spend less time cleaning, straightening, and organizing. And, in turn, that I can spend more time under a blanket with a good book, that opening my home to friends can feel simpler and more spontaneous, that there's one less thing I have to add to that overcrowded to do list.
The bottom line is, life isn't simple, but my home can be. And that, my friends, is a comfort.