I’ve always wanted to be a minimalist, but I like stuff. I like pretty things and I like things that are convenient and I like having them around me.
That’s not me on the right, by the way. I just like that dress.
Anyway as a fashion editor, I spend most of my days researching purchases like this jet black, versatile and comfy cotton jersey. So, it’s hard not to convince myself to shop when I’m working so hard to convince others to shop. It is an occupational hazard.
I’m a minimalist at heart. I envision my best self in a simple asymmetrical black dress, a postapocalyptic Nicholas K jacket and black ankle boots sitting at a workstation notable for its clean desktop and appropriately small stacks of items that I will use often or soon discard.
Outside my immaculate mental self, I’m not a hoarder by any stretch but I am a collector of things. I am a magnet for things. The results are no worse than most and better than some.
I regularly exercise my ability to let go by taking things into the office. I place them on a table for communal offerings. Anything placed there can be taken by anyone, most people bring food because that’s what we are typically taught to share. I like to bring things in from my junk drawer. I have lots of junk drawers, baskets, bins and cabinets.
These are all things I’ve stored away for a rainy day, some practical, some totally superfluous. I’m talking about duck whistles, rubber balls, multiple decks of playing cards, a spare roll of duct tape, candles, you know the drill.
It’s weird to discard junk publically. I know, but I can’t remember anything I’ve placed on that table that hasn’t been taken. Once I brought in partially used perfume bottles and shampoo. I had like six bottles of shampoo at one point and nearly a dozen perfume bottles. I don’t wear perfume much and I usually go to the shop for a shampoo, so this was all very ridiculous.
And since you can’t donate partially used shampoo or conditioner to anyone but people you know that’s what I did. Some people thought it was gross, but others saw the simple logic. It was relatively sanitary, I mean I didn’t lick the shampoo or anything and I’m not some weirdo wing nut who’d put neurotoxins in the perfume. So slowly but surely it all disappeared.
A few days ago I put out ankle weights. I’d had them for years and used them only a few months in total during rehabilitation after knee surgery. So I put them on the sacrificial table (the table is behind me and opposite an office partition so I usually don’t see the passersby and they don’t see me. I heard a few people with faces scrunched (I imagine) saying, “ankle weights?!?” I shrugged and sure enough within an hour, I heard someone exclaim with surprise and vague delight “ankle weights!”
She asked if they were mine. I said, “They used to be.”
She took them saying that she could use them for rehab and I smiled but I didn’t care if they were going to a good home or being used for a noble purpose, I really just wanted them out of my possession.
The only problem is that I hate to waste anything. I really, really hate throwing things in the garbage and if it was practical for me, I’d compost. So the little table altar of discarded things is a great option because I get the false security that the items are going to be of some use to someone.
I’d wager that most of the things I discard are going into new junk drawers not utility but that’s not really my concern. They’ll have to make their own junk altar.
So I’ve said all this to say, stay tuned for a new link to a blog on my purge. My current goal is to post an object every day with a brief good-bye. My January 10 column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will be about this purge. Wish me luck.