Wednesday, April 13, 2011

rediscovering and reducing!

I read this book right around the time of my last blog post, and I suppose in a way it is responsible for the lull in work. Minimalism is becoming more respected, desired and maybe even necessary. I've had and listened to conversations where people are tired of being fearful about their possessions- that using them will devalue/ruin it, that they don't have the right kind anymore, or enough. What I really enjoyed about this book was how accessible the information was, and the tone of the writing. Yes, at times it was a little cheesy, but I never felt threatened for the lifestyle I'm living, or by the steps to live a more minimalist life.

I'm a clutter kind of person. I grew up in a house teeming with stacks of books, with scores of art objects; for many years I slept on a pile of Persian carpets instead of a bed. I loved it. I loved being surrounded by all the patterns, textures and colors, all of the potential information just waiting for me to explore it. It shaped who I am, what I'm attracted to and what I find intriguing and comforting. All of these objects and their immensity became over whelming. It wasn't something I understood at the time because living this way was what I knew and was familiar with. I remember all of the books in the house, but in all honesty I probably read very few of them; I preferred the library and the choices there, and the whole ritual behind browsing and borrowing.

I left this home 6 years ago, and I'm just beginning to understand the draw behind a more minimalist life. It's hard for me as an artist to let possible materials go- the whisper of re-purposing is very seductive. My inner historian cringes at the loss of ephemera, but I make some compromises here and there. When I am not at work or spending time with my boyfriend I am sorting through things in my room. I have torn it apart, rearranged it, placed all my art materials together to see how much I really have and how little of it I actually use. I've gone through piles of magazines, drawings and papers, taking photos and writing down info on word docs before recycling them. It's liberating, once I get past the squirming uncomfortableness of destroying things that measured time or seemed to represent potential. The Joy of Less helped me realize a few things about objects and time. If it makes you happy and you love it then it's worth your time. It almost doesn't matter how much time or money went into something if it isn't serving a purpose in your life, and if you're not getting any enjoyment out of it. What good does something do squirreled away in boxes or closets or on cluttered shelves?

In the book Francine Jay asks this question: If you were given the opportunity of a lifetime (career, personal, whatever is closest to who you want to be reason) but you had to move across the country in 3 days for it, would you take it? Would you thrill at the opportunity, or would the dread of dealing with all of your possessions hold you back? Would those things prevent you from going?

My big project right now is downsizing. I don't want to feel overwhelmed by what I own, or stress about the lack of space. I don't need any excuses to hold myself back. If the future offers a move I want to be able to take it without it becoming about the stress of dealing with years of collected things.

Take a moment to go through something you haven't touched or thought about for a few months/years: sketch books, portfolios, papers, closets, folders on your hard drive. You'll find things you love and things that don't really apply to who you are currently and how you're living your life. Those moments are true learning moments, filled with all sorts of potential. Shifting through papers from my 2nd year of college I found ideas and images that I think I'm finally ready to tackle. It can be intimidating to start, but it can really refresh your creativity and how you feel in the present moment.

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