I wish I still had the photo as the object itself is hard to describe. A metal fork-like hand on one end and at the other, attached via a thick fabric webbing strap, a bar that didn’t fit or integrate with the fork-like hand in anyway whatsoever. It was an odd thing, no clear use for it could be imagined but it was obviously manufactured en masse so definitely, at some point in its past, had a purpose.
The last I saw it was in a cupboard at my parents old house, a hazy memory of an odd object that was easily discarded when they moved largely because none of us had any idea what it was, having been found in the garage when my parents had moved in some 40 odd years before. Was it farming gear? It had that level of industrial look and feel about it, yet it was clean and untarnished. Perhaps an emergency tool of some sort, although for what I have no idea, given it was incapable of gripping anything, let alone itself. Most odd indeed.
I have no such objects in my possession, not yet at least, but as I’m going through another bout of clearing out, going through cupboards and drawers and find myself questioning why I have three unused notebooks, four rolls of partially used sellotape, two rarely used scarves, six (!) bottles of unopened moisturiser of differing brands, and don’t even get me started on all those out of date spices and baking ingredients at the back of THAT cupboard in the kitchen.
It all has to go, and with it I’m finding other items than can be passed on, recycled or, via a recently discovered Facebook group, bartered; a bluetooth Apple keyboard and trackpad, a litre bottle of Southern Comfort, an iron and ironing board, a camera tripod, a pair of walking shoes that I bought online that never ever fitted.
It is as cathartic now as it was a couple of years ago when I last went through this process. Going through your belongings also lets you rediscover things that are very much out of sight and completely out of mind; those exercise bands that will be good for your physio routine, that old spare hard drive you’d meant to trash last year but never got around to, or the unread books that are lurking behind a cupboard door instead of on the unread/shame shelf on the bookcase.
And no, I’m not holding these items and hoping to detect joy, there is no Kondo-ing here. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a reasonable approach if you have never done a decluttering and already know you have too much stuff (and let’s be honest, most of us already know), but did that last time I moved so anything else is a newer purchase and easily identifiable as needed versus wanted versus ‘brings me joy’.
The items that I want to keep, the decorations and art work, the memory box items, are already stored. But now it’s about less, about fewer, about removing as much clutter as possible so there is less to move. That box of cables, untouched in a year has gone, that drawer of random iPhone accessories, pens, instruction manuals, and a random tennis ball, gone. I am no longer holding on to items ‘just in case’. The advantage of having done a big declutter a couple of years ago evident by the things that I took with me when I moved, still lying untouched are easy to identify and discard. I do not need those items. They are history.
Clothes remain the last bastion where I seem unable to slim things down too far – an interesting juxtaposition between my never decreasing waistline – and whilst I did take some time last week to do another clear out of my clothes, managing to fill one black bag, I’ll take one more pass through my shirts and that’ll be that (for now).
And then, with my possessions paired down, into boxes they will go awaiting the day when they are lifted and shifted, two men and a van style, from my current abode to their van and on to a new home, a new beginning, and a chance to start fresh once more.
I’ve made myself this promise twice now, yet remain determined that this time moving to a new home will also institute a change in my approach to possessions, a change towards considered purchases, a change of thought from a ‘quick Amazon order’ to a delayed purchasing habit, not just for my own desire for less clutter, but because as I get older I know I need to be better to the world around me too.
So rather than succumb to the onslaught of influencers and online bargains, I will aim to delay the instant gratification of purchasing. I will make lists and act on them later, once I’m sure I actually NEED each item, rather than giving in to my whimsy. I’ve tried this before and it works, revisit the desire to order a new lamp and a few days later it doesn’t seem quite as appealing, I have lamps, I like them, I do not need more (this is a terrible example as moving to a larger place suggests we may well need to purchase another lamp or two but I digress).
How much does that new magazine rack cost to make? How much to ship? What is it made from? How is it packaged? Does it come from a sustainable source? Is mass produced by a machine?
These are the questions I hope I will ask. I’ve slowly been phasing out the flat packed in favour of the hand-made (and antique), choosing to spend more for sustainable quality, and this in itself becomes an incentive to pause and consider each purchase. Yet I know I will not succeed, not fully, I know I will falter, but I will try. After all, there is a future to think of, and between us, I hope we hold each other as accountable as we can be.
I was packing over the weekend and came across a series of books, professional books bought for a previous role that I wasn’t able to fulfil due to being made redundant. I added them to the charity shop pile with a smile, a different life back then, 4 short years ago, and I realised that I have moved on too. I am not the same man I was back then, I have worked hard and slowly managed to declutter many things, leaving myself happier and more content than ever before. I have fewer possessions, and far more room in my heart for what the future holds.
And all of it has been considered and deliberate, and all those choices add up to where I am today, and where I will be in my future as I settle in to a new home.