I sat there surrounded by a number of cardboard boxes, frowning at the sight of an avalanche of clothes that were still wallowing in their tagged, unused-selves, wondering what lay in store for them. I regret not having “Kondo-ed” my living space ever even after reading Marie Kondo’s best-selling book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’. Now, when I was packing to move house, I pulled at my hair in despair, wondering what that garish trouser and its likes were doing in my wardrobe, did I buy all of it in fits of consumeristic ecstasy? Well, my middle name has always been “hoarder”.
‘Moving house’ may just seem like another inanimate, emotionless activity of just relocating the self and one’s possessions to another space. But to me it developed all the complications of an algebraic formulae. Pablo Neruda had said. “Was it where they had lost me that I was able to find myself.” Well, well, I am not sure of that but I thought of the long years I’d spent in this beautiful place here and of the temptations to purchase things at the drop of a hat, and now those very things look up to me and say, are you leaving us behind?
As I sat there in the midst of boxes, clueless and helpless as to how I could let go of these things, my dear friend, Mrs. Kohli walked in with a flask of coffee and a bag containing lunch as the kitchen was already dismantled. She looked at my sullen face and as she poured me some coffee, I revealed to her my decision to embrace a new way of life-a life of ‘minimalism’. I told her about Rebekah Paulson, a 35-year-old artist, from Colorado who gave away 99 per cent of everything she owned to live in a 20 x 8 foot shed-on-wheels.
Rebekah’s tiny new home has no oven or freezer, and she could pack her entire wardrobe (three pairs of shoes, two pairs of trousers, a few shirts, and a couple of cardigans) in a suitcase smaller than most take on a hand luggage-only weekend away. According to Rebekah, having so little has left her on a “life-changing” high.
Mrs. Kohli just froze for a nano-second as she couldn’t fathom my decision to do away with almost all my ‘branded’ clothes, shoes and other possessions that I had not even missed over the past few years. As I spoke to her, I realised that buying impulsively just to grab a good deal went on to add to the clutter physically and mentally. The adrenalin rush and the happiness one felt just at that moment seemed a temporary experience, an entrapment of sorts.
The previous day, as we packed with the help of a few workers from a moving company, I observed that one of them sat down for a while on the floor and with keen focus he tried to fix the soles of his shoes that were almost coming off, with a few drops of an adhesive. My heart went out to him because here we had a countless number of shoes that were bought out of sheer indulgence, most of which were untouched. Probably the wisdom lies in giving away in charity a few things that we own and make way for each new possession that we buy.
After our container was packed and seen off, I sat down with a cup of tea and realised that when people say, “The more the merrier”, they don’t really mean material assets but happy moments of joy. It could be about reading a beautiful book, about friends, about smiles and laughter, about exhilarating experiences, but never about wealth in terms of money or landed and bank assets. I visualised a snail, slithering on, so light hearted. He has no fear of his world falling apart. When he is tired or sees danger, he curls up and retires. Carrying his house with him. Probably a snail should be the brand ambassador of “minimalism”.
Temptation struck me again as I entered the Dubai Duty Free Shopping zone on our way to Delhi. However, I recollected the “suffocation” experienced while packing 147 boxes of clutter and looked away from those titillating bags, making my way towards the departure gate, to a new clutter-free beginning.
Navanita Varadpande is a writer based in Gurugram, India. Twitter: @VpNavanita