STUFF: When a Minimalist Meets an Accumulator
“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, wealthy, not rich….”

William Henry Channing


Can a woman with a simple esthetic make peace with a man who sees value in every object and longs to store, preserve, display and own it?

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They say opposites attract, but I’m not so sure.  Are Republicans attracted to Democrats?  Do cats really like dogs? 

My personal style is Zen-ish.  One bowl, one spoon, one chair.  I think the Shakers had the right idea:  simple is beautiful.  If I have too much or too many of anything, I think I have someone else’s stuff and I divest myself of it.  And I would rather live in a cottage than a castle.

Now, down the road comes a man with considerable means who has acquired, accumulated and adhered to objects.  Many of these objects have deep emotional meaning for him and we all have some of these:  children’s drawings and notes; a snow globe of Mt. Washington, ugly but still meaningful; a menu from a special dinner.  But what if every memento is saved, not to mention every cup, plate, chair, tablecloth, book……What happens then?

From the opposite end of this continuum I would say that this stuff  stifles and smothers the present.  I would say that the outlines of life are muddled and muddied by all these things.  I would say that major lifelines are swamped and lost in waves of things and that drowning in detritus is a poor way to go.

And from a practical point of view, the reason for keeping everything automatically cancels itself out:  one keeps an object to remember, but keeping too much means everything is lost anyway.  Mementos are never enjoyed and brought to light because new stuff buries them.

I like to live an edited life.  I think this makes for harmony and clarity.  I appreciate but don’t accumulate:  that’s what museums are for.

Marie Kondo, a diminutive dynamo who has become a media star simply by helping people clear and organize their homes, is a latecomer to the field.  Long before Ms. Kondo existed I was creating a simple pared down lifestyle for myself.

On the other hand, if an organism strives towards homeostasis (a stable equilibrium between interdependent elements) perhaps the spirit and mind do the same.  In that case maybe a minimalist and a pack rat belong together:  it’s only together that either one of them can reach equilibrium.

It’s difficult for me to honor my friend’s bent to keep all things with emotional and historical ties.  And it’s just as difficult for him to curate these things.  But if we both commit to compromise, I think (on my good days) that we can actually do this.

We can create some simplicity and harmony amidst some abundance.  Watch this space for updates on our project.

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