I've been attempting to simplify my life for nearly 70 years. Catholic boarding school pre-Vatican II introduced me to the monastic ideal. The nuns had few personal possessions. We gave them large white handkerchiefs for gifts.
Then an English teacher had us read Walden. Omigod, the beauty of enough.
But, alongside this person who longed for the elegance of enough, the simplicity of a table and two chairs, a bed and a writing desk was a person who wanted lots of furniture, dishes, books, a car, and clothes--expensive, tasteful clothes.
For at least 55 years these two entities have been battling it out. In 1975 I notified my friends and acquaintances that most of my possessions were going out the door, free to good homes. One friend took nearly everything and I found out years later she had a very successful garage sale.
This scenario has replayed three or four times since then and I always end up a year later with too many possessions. Most recently I decided to move to Grass Valley, Calif. from Minden, Nev. We all know about the housing bubble and its spectacular burst which has put my move on hold. However, before I realized I wasn't going anywhere right away I packed up 35 or 40 boxes and took them to Grass Valley and stored them in a friend's giant shop.
Walking into my house, you could not tell I removed anything. What? And I have no idea what's in the boxes except for my grandmother's china. I'm not bringing more in (well, a few books) so what is going on?
I finally decided to give up my minimalist ideal, the clutter-free bare surfaces, nearly empty rooms, freedom from possessions. The attempt has been making me crazy for years. There has been no acceptance of the way things are and the way I am. Perhaps I'll just learn to put things away after I use them.