There is a movement called Simple Living. The idea behind it is that the simpler your life, the happier you will be. The more unfettered you are, the more fulfilled you will be.
While I can’t imagine only having one fork and a singular pair of shoes, there is a certain tranquility in paring down, cutting away the fat. I don’t plan on throwing out all of my flip-flops or tossing my favorite books or getting rid of my seldom used wedding china, but I eagerly admit to feelings of joy when I expunged two large shopping bags stuffed with clothing from my closet. Some clothes I just don’t wear. Some clothes were too big. Some were too small. Basically they just don’t fit anymore.
A funny thing happened as I gleefully threw items into the bags. I discovered things I already own that I’d forgotten about. Cozy sweaters crammed on a shelf, shiny brown boots hiding in a dark corner. Jeans smashed in between other jeans. I was ecstatic to rediscover these long-lost items. It was like shopping in my own closet. I carefully folded or hung each one. I even organized all of my clothing by color, like a teeny tiny version of Oprah’s closet. Sitting on the floor of my closet, I could now clearly see each item. It was refreshing.
From the floor I could also clearly see my fancy dresses. Party dresses, maid of honor dresses, funeral dresses. I’d already weeded through them and kept the ones I feel good in, but from the floor I could see they were taking up SO much space. Why was I letting things I only use occasionally plug up an area I occupy everyday? It didn’t make any sense. So I gathered up my fancy dresses and moved them to the tiny hall closet. The one that houses snow coats and the vacuum, both things I rarely touch. When my fancy dresses were all settled in the hall closet, I had a “Why didn’t I think of that sooner?” moment. Of course dresses I seldom wear should occupy a space I seldom access.
And then it hit me. My closet, my wise closet, was imparting lessons to me. As I was cleaning out my closet, I was feeding the desire to rid my life of things that don’t fit. Not just things that don’t fit my body, but things that don’t fit who I am, or better yet, who I’d like to become. I want to become a better writer, teacher, and cyclist. To make room for that in my life, other things simply do not fit. Endless hours drifting through the internet will not fit. People who create unnecessary drama do not fit. Mindlessly watching TV does not fit. Scarfing all things chocolate does not fit. People who constantly complain about teaching do not fit. I simply don’t have the room.
If I get rid of things that don’t really fit who I want to be, I’m confident I’ll re-discover some things that are important to me. Things I’d forgotten about when I sandwiched them between thoughtless, unimportant things. For example, I love poetry. I love writing it, reading it, even just thinking about it. Parking myself in front of the TV mindlessly doesn’t leave a lot of room for rumination of poetry. In the same vein, pounding copious amounts of tasty goodies in lieu time in the saddle doesn’t fit with my goal to be a better cyclist. There’s not room for both. This probably seems like “duh” to you, but it’s time for me to let go of things that suck time and energy and give nothing in return. It’s certainly not simple living, but it is living simpler. I already feel happier. Here I thought I was just cleaning out my closet.