I think every minimalist fantasizes about starting over with a clean slate—it seems a heck of a lot easier than the slow (and sometimes painful) process of decluttering the stuff you’ve accumulated over a lifetime. I for one had been decluttering for years, and still seemed nowhere near my goal of living with just the essentials.
But short of a fire, natural disaster, or other tragedy (which nobody wants to experience), there are few circumstances that would suddenly separate you from the bulk of your possessions.
Recently, I received my unique (and possibly once-in-a-lifetime) opportunity for a clean slate: an overseas move.
My husband and I were thrilled about the prospect; for years, we’d dreamt of experiencing life in another country. But reality quickly set in: what on earth would we do with all our stuff?
We had no desire to take all our possessions with us; in fact, the cost of moving them probably would have exceeded their value. Furthermore, we had no address (we’d be looking for a place to live upon arrival), no idea of how long we’d be there, and the thought of dragging hundreds of tidbits across the sea seemed ridiculously burdensome.
Our other option was to put everything into a public storage unit, to be dealt with later. However, that almost seemed like cheating (or at least procrastinating). How could we start a new life, when all the trappings of our old one were bundled up in a warehouse, waiting for us to come “home?” We knew if we kept it, our stuff would continue to weigh on us from across the ocean.
So from the time our house went under contract, we had one month to empty its entire contents. And for an aspiring minimalist like myself, what a euphoric month that was!
Don’t get me wrong, selling things on Craigslist is no walk in the park. It takes a lot of effort to photograph your stuff, describe it, and answer an unending stream of emails about it. Not to mention sell it at a price far less than what you paid. But it was worth every bit of the hassle. That continual parade of buyers lifted the burden of our possessions from us, one-by-one, giving us the freedom (and a little extra cash) to embark on our new adventure.
In the end, my husband and I were each left with one bag (to carry with us), two boxes of books and clothes (to be shipped later), and a handful of items in long-term storage (more on those later).
I only wish I’d had the time to provide a post-by-post account of the experience—but as it turns out, there was little time for blogging (or much of anything else) with precious few weeks to purge, pack, and plan a life in a foreign country. But that’s okay; I’m not sure I could have effectively expressed the utter joy of seeing our bar stools, coffee table, or weed whacker walk out the door for the last time—at least in a way that wouldn’t get me institutionalized. ;-)
So over the next few weeks, I’ll provide my post-mortem account of what it was like to get rid of everything, and live my minimalist dream—residing in hotels, with all my possessions in a single duffel bag. That’ll catch you up to where I am now. Stay tuned.