A lot of people in my age group are talking about –and some are doing something about- downsizing and simplifying their lives. This is something I have written about before, but the topic keeps popping up with new twists and turns, and I find myself looking at it again as I continue collecting days.
One thing I am seeing and hearing about from many of my friends and family members centers around our collections. Since I collect days, and little else, this is not a major concern of mine, although I share some of the problems facing my age group.
The first one, and one often discussed among us baby boomer women, is what are we going to do with our wedding china, crystal, and silver? Not only do I still have my wedding china, but I also have inherited some of my mother’s china. What to do with it all? The antique malls around here are cluttered with sets of old dishes, glasses, forks, spoons, and knives. And as far as I can tell, nobody is buying them! I was using my Wedgwood china for awhile, but wearied of having to wash it by hand and worrying about breaking it, and I packed it all away. My mother’s Radford china has met the same fate, although I have a friend who collects violets, and since my mom’s pattern was one with violets on it, I gave her a place setting for her collection. In a way, this seems to be defeating my purpose of simplifying- I only added to her dilemma of what to do with her growing collection! Neither of my sons are interested in inheriting a set of china when I leave this earth, and I don’t want to saddle them with having to deal with it at some point. The crystal problem isn’t as bad. I use my crystal, and if I drop and break a piece, I simply sigh, get out the broom and dust pan, and it’s one less glass to worry about. For some reason, it doesn’t hold the sentimental value that the china does. And the silverware- well, I figure that if nobody wants it down the road, it can be sold at one of the many “we buy gold and silver” places that grace almost every corner of town.
Then there is the subject of photograph albums. Before the advent of digital photography, i-phones, and the like, we spent our time and money on cameras, film developing, and saving our memories in photograph albums. My dad had a 35 mm slide collection, which was passed down to me in Kodak carousels in about 6 big packing boxes. Besides this, I have two huge boxes filled with photo albums of my own little family, recording every family event, birthday, Christmas, and every memorable day imaginable. And to add to this, my mother gave me an additional collection of photographs that she had collected, knowing that I, as the librarian in the family, would never let anything happen to them. The slide collection has been taken care of, and over 600 of Daddy’s slides have been saved to discs. I don’t know what to do with all of the other photos, packing them away out of sight for the time being! I can’t bear throwing them away, but I’m really not sure of what value they are anymore.
While these two are the ones that take up the most space in my little home, I still find myself going through my belongings on a regular basis as I become more of a minimalist in the way I live, and in my attempt to look at life, not through my possessions, but through who I am. As I simplify my physical life, I find that I am also simplifying my spiritual life. Over the course of my life, I have collected many ideas and beliefs that are now staring me in the face and begging me to examine them from a new perspective. As I talk to people and dare to broach this subject, I have been surprised to learn that I’m not the only one on earth asking the same questions and examining my beliefs. While this subject is worthy of looking at on another day in another blog post, I want to at least include it in this bit of writing. I find that many people, myself included, have made religion and religious beliefs very complicated and confusing as we try to make sense of who we are and how we fit into the big picture of God, Jesus, creation, the universe, etc., etc., etc. While my little home is beginning to be less cluttered with material stuff, I am doing my best to unclutter my heart and mind with religious stuff. I believe in God, and have a very personal relationship with the Holy Spirit in my life. Through meditation and prayer, I have come to an understanding with my God that all I need to be concerned with right now is that God is the breath of life and love, the air that surrounds me and fills me everywhere that I go and in everything I do. It’s as simple as that.
And so I keep on simplifying my life, and getting down to the knitty-gritty of it all.
I’m working on it.