If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have an ongoing project, a nemesis if you will. The quest to have a house filled with “nothing that is neither useful nor beautiful” in the words of William Morris. Sure, it sounds simple enough, but for me it gets right to the heart of a daily struggle. You see, I am a Maximalist Minimalist. There exists within me an eternal struggle for the bright,the shiny, the hoarder and collector; and yet I hate to dust and know that I would spend far less time having to tidy up if I had less stuff! Indeed, this is a luxury of a dilemma to have, but a dilemma nonetheless. So this year I have been working ever so slowly towards getting it under control.
Being a vintage clothing collector, I often feel compelled to “liberate” pieces from their current situation. Find a beautiful vintage dress two sizes too big in an Op shop? I still have to have it in case it is ragged, or bought by someone to be cut up for a school play. There is little logic involved when it comes to collecting, and fashion even more so; as it is difficult to store, requires constant care and attention and it’s display relies primarily on your body remaining the same shape! Why on earth do we do it if not for love? The problem is that when you start to attach such strong emotional values to your vintage clothing, it starts to extend into your regular wardrobe, which then extends into your family’s wardrobe… and on it goes. So I find myself sitting it a storage room filled with three racks of clothes I no longer wear (or am ever likely too – maternity pants anyone?), boxes of baby clothes and toys, hats, purses etc… and each piece has a memory attached. Somehow giving them away feels like a betrayal of those times. As if by letting go of that little pink baby suit, I am letting go of the baby who wore it. Like I said, no logic.
It is at this point of having moved the unnecessary items into storage, that I must face this crisis of emotion and move onto the next level of enlightenment. My very good friend Nicole has become my spiritual leader in this regard. Not to sound too serious, but unless you face a similar crisis yourself it is hard to understand its hold in you. She tells me, (to paraphrase) ” I let go of clothes. Let them out into the cycle of clothing karma where they will find a new home and come back to me in the form of that perfect vintage dress I have been looking for all these years.” And then the penny dropped. If I continue to hold onto all these things, they will only serve to be a burden for me. There will be no space to let anything new in, and neither will the well be replenished for others if we all keep on hoarding it.
So I am letting go. I have forgone the marketing or eBaying of this last lot, as it is just too much effort. Instead, I have boxed things up and sent them on their way to new homes with my blessing. Yesterday I took about 40 kilos of clothing and accessories to my local Op Shop. (Please – don’t ask why there was so much!) I make sure that everything is clean and well presented to allow it to hit the shelves straight away, and always hand it to the volunteers in person. Part of my hesitation in letting many of these pieces go, is the rate at which they are simply put into land fill and treated as rubbish. But my rational is that if I treat them with respect that the store will also, and then they will find a good new home.
After letting go of many of my personal pieces, I headed into some serious emotional territory and opened the boxes of baby clothes. I had sold off many at the local market, but still had a ridiculous amount remaining, and knew that I had to let them go to move on. When it comes to baby gear, knowing that they will go somewhere that they are truly needed and appreciated is the only way I could part with them. So I did a little research and found a small hospital that cares for mothers and new babies from disadvantaged backgrounds. (The Caroline Chisholm Society in Melbourne needs your little baby gear if you have it to spare! ) Knowing that these pieces, so lovingly knitted by Nana, would keep another baby warm, was all I needed to let them go. I have kept a few pieces. Things my girls wore home from hospital, heirloom pieces and one handmade piece from each family member. The other pieces I found hard to let go, I photographed and then boxed up.
I know this isn’t the end of my quest, but just the beginning. The day I master it I’ll let you know, but until then I will keep on working towards my goal; heading off a future that sees me living as a slave to stuff!