Win or Lose?
If you follow @sheworksinthelibrary, or have read my ramblings about magical life-changing moments and replacing your TV with a bookshelf, then you will be familiar with my newfound aspiration to live a more deliberate life with less.
I stumbled upon the concept of the 30-Day Minimalism Game (#minsgame) when browsing for new year’s resolutions inspiration via @theminimalists Instagram. Thanks to a fortunate stroke of serendipity, I screenshot the ‘challenge’ post below just two days before Joshua and Ryan decided to take a month long social media hiatus and delete every post from their account!
Here’s how the game works:
“Find a friend or family member: someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house — and out of your life — by midnight each day.”
— via https://www.theminimalists.com/game/
I immediately found several friends and family members who wanted to play (most notably, my sister, my Mum, and my BFF — talk about an all-star team of minimalist wannabes!).
Then, I made my own house rules. Patience is not one of my virtues. So, rather than limit myself to daily items (one thing on the first day, two things on the second day etc) my plan was to go hard on my letting go from Day 1. Subsequently, I committed to making a list of everything I donated, sold or trashed each day, aiming for an overall end of month target of 496 items (January = 31 days!). For the record, I held myself to the rule that each material possession/s be out of the house (and out of my life!) by midnight each day.
On Day 1, thirteen (13) items left my life. It was easy and entertaining to donate random excess possessions such as books, candles and glass jars (and to trash a very used old shower cap!!!).
I continued to play strong.
Day 5 resulted in a swift sayonara to thirty-four (34) ‘things’ — including excess tea-towels, odd trinkets, pre-loved DVDs and, unexpectedly, my most recent purchase, an LED Christmas tree!
On Days 14 and 17 I entered the depths of my already minimalist wardrobe, farewelling with slight mania more than a dozen items of clothing to the local Vinnies.
And on Day 23 I donated a new (still-in-the-packaging-brand-new!) IKEA shelf that I had no idea I held in my possession until this game and, if I am honest, still question whether or not was actually mine!?!? Who cares, I am counting it in my #minsgame total!
When in doubt, I applied Marie Kondo’s ‘Does it spark joy?’ philosophy, and religiously stuck to the #minsgame ‘out of your house — and out of your life — by midnight each day’ rule to avoid any jettisoning regrets.
“Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things — which actually aren’t things at all.” - The Minimalists
Day 25. Shit gets real.
On Day 25 I did a total count of items. I SHOULD have been at a total of three hundred and twenty-five (325) by now, but, I was only at one hundred and fifteen (115). I was disheartened.
Sure, slow progress is still progress in the right direction to living a more deliberate life with less. But, this was a game, and I was losing.
I literally walked laps around my house in search of some ‘thing’ to kick-off the day’s game count. I picked up possessions I loved, and items that provoked indifference, but, no ‘thing’ screamed ‘excess’. Suddenly the #minsgame felt like #minstorture.
It dawned on me in this moment that less stuff meant more me. The challenge was not in deciding what physical stuff to sell, donate or trash, it was in looking past the things and questioning the non-physical stuff — my habits, my priorities, my goals etc.
Why did I chose to play this game again!??
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life” - Marie Kondo
On Day 25 I (finally) decided to donate a leather clutch (if I share the brand you’ll think I’m crazy) and a framed artwork. Why?
I carried that clutch as my wallet during a period of convalescence and it was heavy with suffering. Some people don’t believe in material items carrying energy, but I do. And that clutch had bad juju.
Whereas, the artwork tells another story. It was a hand painted quote: ‘Fortuna audaces iuvat’ — a popular Latin phrase translated to ‘fortune favours the brave’. I purchased it at a time in my life when I needed to be reminded of the need to be brave (and I have had it hanging on my bedroom wall, reading it as a mantra morning and night, for years). So, when I decided to get rid of it as an item in the #minsgame it felt fitting. It’s going to take a lot more courage than simply playing a game of discarding to achieve my purpose of living with intention!
Were these items ‘excess’ material possessions in the sense that they were surplus stuff? No. But they were ‘excess’ to how I want to live my life as a minimalist, and for creating space for the woman I want to become in the future.
“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past” - Marie Kondo
So, #minsgame racap did I win or lose?
At the end of the month I made it to 266 items (555 if you count the 289 printed photos from my teenage years I recycled on a whim on Day 28. I couldn’t come to a clear conclusion if they counted individually or per album, so I’ve opted out of counting them all together — a fair game is a good game!). The goal was 496. Technically, I lose. Oh gosh, at face value this is the #Year33ReadingList resolution fail all over again! Clearly, I need a refresher in goal-setting!
Negative calculations aside, as always, I’m choosing to focus on the positives.
“Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less. Rather, we focus on making room for more, more, more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment — and more freedom. It just so happens that clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.” - Joshua Fields Millburn
During the month of the #minsgame (and in the weeks following!) I have had some of THE most stimulating conversations about the many, many flavours of minimalism — with friends and family, work colleagues and the odd random stranger — all of which lead to the same conclusion: a discussion about how we all want to be living a life with more meaning. And, for some of us, myself included, that is a life with less things.
But, this is not about things.
In my introductory post about minimalism I shared a bunch of alternative-isms to the word ‘minimalism’ — including one of my favourites: ‘enoughism’. And my biggest takeaway from the #minsgame is that, regardless of the total sum of my ‘things’, I am enough.