Lent continues . . . still thinking about the 40 bags in 40 days challenge. I have no idea, to be honest, how many bags exactly we will have shipped out of our place in response to this. Life is too short to be pernickety about numbers. But we are certainly applying the principle in seeing how we can further calm and bring peace and space to our home.
I was well chuffed to learn that a monastic friend right across the world had suggested the idea to her community, and her prioress had put our boxes by the cell doors for those sisters who wished to participate – giving sacrificially of their very few possessions so that others could be blessed.
So here are some more categories of items for disposal that come to mind.
THINGS THAT DIDN’T LIVE UP TO EXPECTATIONS
I’ve made purchases that seemed like a brilliant idea at the time, I was pleased with them when I got them home, but over time I realized they didn’t live up to my expectations. I’ve had a few household gizmos in this category – a motorized carpet sweeper that was just the thing until the long hair from various household members seized it up completely and irrevocably (for the dump, then), a spiralizer that I thought would encourage us to eat veggie carbs rather than grain (we do, but without the bother of spiralizing them), and this sweater that is as soft and fluffy as I’d hoped but has changed shape in washing, is still good but now the shape of a quite different woman (for charity shop).
THINGS ONE WAY OR ANOTHER OUTGROWN
If you have children, outgrowing things is an obvious category - these books on the top shelf are now too babyish for The Blur and Little Sardine:
But there are many ways to outgrow an item. You might get thinner (hang on to the outgrown thing for a while, it’ll probably soon fit you again) or fatter (get rid of it).
Maybe you change your style – I got these earrings when I had long hair – they look somewhat excessive on me now my hair is short again.
I wore these legging when I had several voluminous skirts.
Now I wear trousers, or straight skirts for formal occasions – leggings don’t work with either.
I got these bags – a stow-away backpack and the sort you strap round your waist.
The first was superseded by a more sturdy backpack because in this fold-up one the groceries stuck into my back painfully through the thin fabric; the second was superseded by a return to a regular handbag because this waist one was in reality too small for what I carry around.
THINGS THAT ARE NICE BUT FRANKLY NOT ME
This scarf is lovely and suits me, so I kept it a long time, eventually noticing that I don’t wear scarves.
These slouchy beanies look awful on me. The eye-wateringly yellow top looks good but I feel too conspicuous in it so never wear it. It was so cheap on eBay, second-hand from a private seller, I thought it worth a try. Didn’t work.
THINGS WE HAVE TOO MANY OF
In our house we accumulate wooden furniture, because the Badger makes it. We also got some lawn chairs free (left behind by someone else somewhere) that are more comfortable to sit on that the wooden chairs we were using. So, time to thin out some of our wooden chairs.
SENTIMENTALIA AND HEIRLOOMS
It is my firm belief that of all the weeds growing in that garden of domestic life, those with the longest tap-roots are in this category. They come fraught with guilt and a sense of moral responsibility, they cling to us with very strong adhesive.
Here’s an example. This candle-stand was made by Bernard – my previous husband. We loved Bernard, so we kept the thing. Wrinkle – we don’t love the thing. Rest in peace Bernard – but it’s time to move this one to someone who can love it for what it is. It isn’t in fact Bernard; it’s just a thing. We won’t forget him (you couldn’t possibly – he was extraordinary).
SMALL ELECTRICAL GOODS
Near us there’s a supermarket that has a bin to dispose of small dead or otherwise useless electrical goods which, in this day and age, have a special talent for house-cluttering outstripping almost any other category of possession.
Not the books. The shelves. We’re losing three of them. Sometimes, when things are built in, they disguise themselves as not clutter when in fact they are.
WHAT THE HECK IS THIS?
Oh, do we not all have something in this category?
If I don’t even know what it is, how can I possibly want or miss it?
THE QUARANTINE PILE
And there are some things I want to think about carefully before I finally decide it’s right to pass them on. So I’ll keep this bagful just a few weeks more, out of sight and ready to go, while I practice living without them.