Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Unutterable Lightness of Decluttering (#9 of 11)

Now that I’m somewhat recovered from the binge of exceeding my limits which I wrote about last week, I’m having a wonderful time with this surprisingly joyful project. Every time I realize there’s something I no longer need, especially if it’s something that consumes a lot of space, I feel a sense of victory over the belongings that have taken over my life.
My husband and I are longing to settle into the tidy little villa in Florida. Our newly decluttered and repainted home in Massachusetts is on the market. We have looked at everything we own and asked ourselves, “Do we really need this? The filing cabinets, the media bench, the floor lamps?” and, equally important, “Where would we put it?” (We voted to keep the media bench, live without the filing cabinets, and we’ll bring only two of the four lamps. We’re donating a lot of our clothes, especially the winter ones.)

We’ve been applying Principle #2 in Mr. Babauta’s book, “Choose what is essential.” We have given away almost all our furniture, including sofas, tables, chairs, a lovely pine desk, and two bookcases. I’ve recycled most of my books, keeping my music books and one bookcase in which to store them. My husband gladly agreed to give up his huge old vibraphone for a new compact one which will be delivered in Florida.

I have two weeks left in which to say good-bye to family and friends, see my doctors for check-ups and a flu shot, and anticipate what lies ahead: time in which to read for pleasure, stitch for relaxation, exercise for health, and meditate to quiet my mind. When we walk out of our old home for the last time, I’ll probably look at how shiny and gorgeous it looks, stripped of all the clutter and polished to please the eye of a prospective buyer, and I may wonder why I decided to give it up.

But only for a moment. I know why, and I’m elated at the prospect of living the simple life in an easier climate, and finally being fully retired. Deciding to move has made the war against clutter easier; we’re just packing the essentials and divesting ourselves of what’s left. 

A famous quote from Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s The Little Prince left me stunned the first time I read it, hand lettered on an original painting that hung in the home of a friend:

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Choosing what is essential goes beyond furniture, lamps, books and filing cabinets. It’s about lifestyle. Serenity is my essential goal, intangible, but unmistakable, and literally invisible to the eye.

The serenity will be in the new spaces in my life.

(To be continued next week.)