I thought we were living simply until a kiddo lost her glasses. Now let’s be honest; no corner of the property is off-limits in our searches for missing spectacles. For example, the last time our daughter lost the glasses, we found them under our bed. As it turned out, they were uncomfortable during hide-and-seek.
Although I thought we were living with a spirit of simplicity, the Case of the Lost Glasses turned out to be a fascinating self-study that proved otherwise. We searched high and low for two days straight. “Behind, on, and under” the counters, corners, and cushions. “Out” in the back and front yards. “In” the toy box and the tubs as well as the pantry, the pockets, and the plants.
We went through everything a second and third time before we finally found them.
Reflecting on the many pockets, cushions, tubs, and plants, we realized that the slow, intentional accumulation might best be managed with an equally deliberate un-accumulation. After all, we carefully select items in the first place so why not part with stuff with the same purposeful spirit?
And what better time than the present?
Our intentional “un-accumulation” adventure began when a friend came for dinner. This guest shared that she had opened her newly rented business space, but that it looked a bit dull. Looking over at the small jungle of plants in our kitchen, I realized that there was more than enough in our home. There were six plants, plenty to share. My friend opted for two, and I tossed in a candle to round out the look.
Four kitchen plants are still plenty, and great satisfaction emerged, knowing we provided for another and reduced consumption.
In the week following the plant episode, I saw a notice soliciting professional attire for a clothes closet at the local university. The idea was to provide students with interview outfits and other items for everyday wear. It was a pure delight to sort through our clothes with this mission in mind.
Many times we need to take a “one and done” approach to decluttering. In these instances, it is helpful to drive all of the purged goods to one location and enjoy the immediate satisfaction of marked reduction in the clutter.
But when time allows, there is a profound joy we discover as we align the donations with purpose. As we carefully select the recipient, we give special attention to the redistribution.
This season of event cancellations, working from home, and “hunkering down” is an ideal time to be on the lookout for the opportunity to fill a gap somewhere. Maybe it involves parting with a plant, or perhaps it entails un-accumulating the toilet paper to share with the neighbor that encountered empty shelves at the store.
As we engage in this manner, we are taking inventory of that which is in our sphere of influence. And sometimes, our interactions with our external environment reflect that which we are working out internally. Simplifying, sorting, and giving. All are actions that remind us we are not powerless.
Plus, there is the joy of contributing toward the needs of neighbors, linking arms with others, and ushering a spirit of unity.
For our family, we have the bonus of knowing that there will be fewer pockets and fewer plants to search for next time those glasses go missing.
About the Author: Jen Macnab is an avid reader, writer, and runner who recently resigned from a full-time career in higher education to pursue balance and simplicity. Jen launched Toward Thriving, LLC to support others on the journey toward best self.