less is less

The title for this post was suggested by a video I recently saw (see link below). It's so true that less is less. Less stuff = less clutter, less stress, less money spent, less time wasted, less weight on your shoulders...

ensō , "circle"  (image and drawing alessandra taccia)

I was converted to minimalism in my twenties, I've read a lot about zen but mainly I learned a hard lesson after my then apartment was flooded. It changed my perception on possessions completely, made me feel less attached to stuff. When I moved out from my parents home, I had just one suitcase with me, yet after 6 years on my own I had accumulated enough stuff to fill a one bedroom apartment. Then one day the apartment was flooded, the water ruined a lot of stuff, including my precious records collection and most of my books. Initially I felt very frustrated, but when I saw the empty space a sense of freedom raised.  When I had to move back to my family home a few years later I had only a suitcase with me.

When I moved to London with my husband we lived in a tiny one bedroom flat. All our belongings packed in two suitcases, we did not plan to stay for more than a couple of years anyway, just the time for my husband to finish his studies and then go back to Italy; instead we lived there for five years. We had very few possessions for nearly four years. I did not care to have a table or a sofa or even chairs; we ate on a low table, sat on cushions and slept on a futon mattress. We had a couple of terracotta bowls we used as plates (during a visit my mother in law was so puzzled by the bare kitchen she bought us a set of plates and few other things), we had one pot, a pan, all our clothes + shoes could fit in a small cupboard.  It wasn't a matter of money, it was more a life style choice. We used our time and money differently: we went out more, to plays, concerts, cinemas every weekend, traveled more and spent time with our friends. It felt good and right. The clutter-free life lasted until we had our daughter. We had to buy the essential baby stuff (which as all parents know can be a humongous amount of stuff anyway) and I felt as if we had to make the house a home for her. Soon after my conversion to minimalism went up in smoke, I lost focus, started to buy stuff that was not necessary, falling into shopping "therapy": the lie you tell to yourself to uplift the sense of loneliness most over-tired mothers feels. Unaware I entered in some sort of vicious circle dictated mainly by social pressure, by the time I realized it I ended up with so much clutter it took me years to downsize to a third. A couple of years ago I started to teach my daughter how to hoard less stuff, (last year she read Marie Kondo's book and that was the trigger for her to become a sort of minimalist, recently she even thanked me for restraining the amount of toys she was allowed to have and because I taught her the rule of "one come in, one go out").  Then we started a huge clearing in her bedroom and by the time we finished we had filled up 5 bin sacks of stuff to give and throw away. Astonishing how all that stuff fitted in a room, she used to keep everything, and when I say everything I mean every thing!

Yet decluttering seems never ending, recently I had a good look around the house and realized that there were still things that are unnecessary and I started to clear the space once again, though I still like to collect ceramic pieces and books, I learn from them, they are experiential and I'm not ready to give them up. With a family seems harder to be a minimalist yet it's plausible to keep stuff at minimum and make a house a home even if it looks empty.

A video