We hoard possessions, don’t we? Feel desperately insecure if we are not surrounded by evidence of our own existence – and plenty of it. Designer, if possible. Expensive, far too often. The thought of doing without, of waiting, of de-cluttering and de-junking, of aiming for simplicity, is complete anathema to many of us.
And yet hoarding is not about actually using the things we cling on to with such ferocity. It is not about sharing, enjoying, revelling in or expansiveness. No: It is a terrible kind of meanness, an inability to let go or open up or change in any way, shape or form. It is having for the sake of it.
It is creativity’s antithesis.
I am readying the house for potential sale – and the process has made me realise what a ridiculous, unnecessary mountain of material complexity we gather to our scared little bosoms in a domestic setting.
Looking at the rooms in this house – crammed with objects – I am seeing, with total clarity, the charm and wonder of simplicity. I am looking at mounds of things, far more than is actually needed. I am looking at insecurity writ large and repetitive: Why have two Le Creuset items if you can order eight on a special offer? Why throw away broken kettles when, one day, they might, like Lazarus, rise again from the dead?
I am taking each room in turn, scraping away as much of the dirt and detritus as I can. I am trying to get down to the fine white bones of its essence, trying to find the simple light within the murkiness of too much stuff.
It is an uphill task because desire for more and more possessions, the ancient cry of scarcity, of never-enough-ness, defines another who shares this space. Clinging on to, and adding yet more of, pointless thingness marks our days, weeks and months.
But this pathological terror of destitution (which I do not share, though I have many other insecurities, as you know) does not reflect reality – and has, ironically, allowed me to see that I can survive, and flourish, on a minimum so bare and simple that the fearful unnamed one would almost certainly freak at the very thought of so spare an existence.
My philosophy, increasingly, is to take what I will actually need and use in my next phase – and no more! I do not desire twenty saucepans, ninety-five different kitchen appliances, four bedside cabinets, three laptops, two knackered toilet seats and a partridge in a pear tree!
The material gifts and lovelinesses which grace my study and my bedroom have special significance and worth. When it comes to it, I will supplement these with a judicious (and thin!) selection of household goods – but I will aim for simplicity at every turn and will avoid the temptation to cram my new living space with piles of ‘Against a Rainy Day’ doodads.
Nor, I can tell you now, will I be visiting the Happening shops in town to purchase the fashionable, the must-have, the expensive. If I have already got something and it works, why replace it with snob-value bollocks?
What, I ask myself, can I do without? The list is surprisingly long and comprehensive!
I think we spend too much of our precious time yearning to get what we want, complicating our lives with this endless search for bigger, better, bolder, more up-to-date. We convince ourselves that we have to buy a chip-maker, five pizza cutters, a flatter, longer television, the latest Smart phone, teal-coloured curtains (because they are ‘in’ at the moment).
Well, I am sorry – but I am not buying (pun deliberate) into any of that any longer.
Simplicity is my new watchword!