This is my first blog post from my new home office here in the suburbs of Philly. The windows look out on the backyard, and since I haven’t unpacked much, the desk is shockingly bare. I don’t know how long that will last (my guess is not long at all) but it’s a bit like trying on a different personality for a day. What if I were the kind of person who always had a spotless desk?
Moving is always good for evaluating one’s relationship with stuff. I’d done quite a bit of purging and packing before the movers showed up at our apartment yesterday. It still took an incredible number of hours to pack and load everything in the truck, and then unload everything out here. My mother-and-law and I have spent much of the day unpacking, and we keep pulling out items like a set of 6 shot glasses, all individually wrapped. No one does shots in my house. If we ever did, I can’t imagine we’d need more than two shot glasses to meet the need. We have enough coffee mugs to serve coffee to a small army. I don’t even like many of the mugs. We keep them because they seem useful (we do drink a lot of coffee) But we probably don’t need them.
The issue with all this stuff is that it weighs you down. It becomes harder to move. You can’t find the stuff you do like or need in the clutter (one reason we spent the whole day unpacking is that I couldn’t find our coffee maker and coffee grounds, and after a bad first night here, I was in desperate need of them). We have more space now to store all this stuff, but I probably need to use the opportunity of putting things in their place to be even more ruthless about purging.
I’ve been thinking of this as I’ve been editing one of the chapters in All The Money In The World. I mention the story of Nina Yau, who writes the Castles in the Air blog. She has committed to the philosophy of “minimalism,” and as part of that, to own fewer than 100 things. When I first interviewed her, that was down to 34 things. She could move back and forth between Taiwan and the US pretty effortlessly. Moving somewhere for just a little while isn’t a problem if you don’t have much stuff. When I got in touch with her to fact-check the excerpt about her, she mentioned she was down to 30 things. I haven’t quite figured out the eating and drinking thing yet, but there weren’t any coffee mugs on that list.
How many things do you think you own?