Recently a friend posted something on Facebook, one of those text based images that shows a well known phrase with a witty rejoinder. This one was about lemons.
I have been renting for the past several years, ever since my divorce. It’s a nice flat, spacious, in a good location, off-street parking, secure entrance blah blah blah. When I first took it on the rent was a little more than I’d planned but it was way better than the other tiny boxes I’d seen, the heart rules the head after all.
The flat was in need of some upkeep then and still is now. The fittings are all original from when the flats were built around 17 years ago and, as it’s always been a rental, it’s had plenty of wear and tear – a damp patch and two cracked cupboard doors in the kitchen, the gas hob fails safety tests as it doesn’t have an automatic shut off, the bathroom has a bare bulb and only got a new shower last year because the old one (finally) gave up the ghost, the carpet needs replaced as it holds numerous permanent stains, and the walls need a fresh coat of paint – but the landlord has never seen fit to tackle any of these issues (and as I don’t own it, neither have I).
I had been pondering a move last year, grand plans of take some time to sort through my belongings, simplify and remove items I don’t need but as with all the best laid plans I never really got around to . So, with the renewal of my lease due at the end of March and another bump to my monthly rent imminent, I’ve decided I’m going to use this as an opportunity to move, to downsize, de-clutter etc etc.
Even a precursory look around my flat suggests it is much needed. I have many things, but few possessions. I have expanded to fill the space I am in. I have bought on whim, rather than considered desire (and yes I have Marie Kondo’s book). A de-cluttering I will go!
Of course this will be a fight between my emotional attachment to some items and the need to ‘get rid’. I also need to balance my desire to have some level of homeliness remain for, as much as I admire the minimalist design ethics that can be found in Japan and Scandinavia, I have come to realise that I need some level of warmth to a room, some level of delight.
As an example I bought a decorative plate a few years ago. It wasn’t something I need but, having walked past it in a local shop window for some time, I found myself drawn to it time and again, so I bought it. I will keep it because I enjoy looking at it, it definitely brings me delight, despite having no function. I’m all for minimising my possessions but I don’t believe that means having little to nothing, instead I’m taking my interpretation to be to only have things that are either functional and needed, or things that I occasionally pause to look at and which make me smile. My ornamental silver owl will stay, the candle bridge that sits in a windowsill will go.
I’m aware I’m only really considering these things in sharp relief, that outside pressures have pushed me to bring my belongings and the way they exist in my living space into focus. It is easy to attest these things to fate, or karma, or some larger spiritual hand that is guiding me through life. From my initial thoughts last year that maybe it was time to move on to receiving the renewal letter, it’s easy to see how this could all be predestined in some way or another.
And perhaps it is in a way, perhaps the events that happen around us, the events that influence us are partly driven by some larger plan. Or perhaps all we really need to do is look at what is given to us and decide how to make what WE want out of whatever is thrown at us, decide to make the best of things we cannot control, decide to sod lemonade and drink tequila instead.
After all, life is like a box of chocolates and you can eat as many or as few as you want.
Also published on Medium.