Everything changed when I first moved out of my childhood home.
I was getting ready to study abroad in the UK and couldn’t decide what to carry. In retrospect, I realized that I walked with way too much luggage in the first place, including a cooking pot and a heavy wool winter coat that I could have just bought over there.
During my time in the UK, I moved around a lot. In my first year, I moved out of my residence hall at the end of each term, which meant getting rid of junk I’d accumulated during the term, putting the rest in storage, and moving into temporary accommodation for the holidays. I also lived in four different locations over my four years in the Midlands and London. It was a pain in the @rse but I learned a lot about what I could survive on. All I really needed was my laptop, some clothes, and a bank card.
Moving to Japan was another kettle of fish. This time I wasn’t moving solo but with my husband. When we got there, we soon realized that we had brought way too much stuff: clothes and shoes not suited to Japan’s weather and conservative culture, too many books, and too many cosmetics/OTC medication. We soon learned that all we needed was a minimalist wardrobe and money since we could buy a lot of stuff over there. It was just a matter of figuring out the kanji.
Does this spark joy in my life?
Today, I’ve learned to appreciate the art of minimalist living. After reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I appreciate it even more. I’ve learned to view everything I own with a very critical eye and always ask Kondo’s magic question: does this spark joy in my life? If it does, I keep. If it doesn’t, I toss.
I’ve discarded clothes I don’t wear. I’ve got rid of travel souvenirs and other mementos I’ve been holding on to for ages for no real reason except nostalgia (postcards, letters, greeting cards, photos, ticket stubs, travel journals, receipts, call cards etc.). I’ve stopped stockpiling food, cosmetics, and drugs that expire before I can use them. I no longer buy paperback/hardcover books and have instead started reading digital editions or borrowing from friends and libraries. That has been a relief because many times, I would only read a book once, creating a very dusty and cluttered bookcase.
Getting rid of these things was not only mentally liberating but also spiritually uplifting because now I’m surrounded by things I actually use or cherish. This kind of minimalist living really helps if you live a nomadic life or are considering a move abroad in the near future. For 2018, maybe you can try the KonMari method to cut the dead weight from your past and breathe newness into your present and future.
What do you think about Marie Kondo’s method? Share in the comments!