Ever wanted to get rid of stuff?
Looked around at your apartment, office or house, and just realized that there’s too much stuff lying around?
A month ago, Timm and I found ourselves in that situation, so for the month of October, we set the challenge of completing The Minimalism Game. In case you’re not familiar with how the game works, it goes like this:
“Find a friend or family member: someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.”
That’s right: for a 31-day month, like October, we each got rid of a total of 496 items.
At first it was easy, a couple of t-shirts here, a mug or glass there. As the month progressed though, it became harder to find things with less sentimental value. After all, who wants to get rid of those treasured memories? About a week or so from the end the game helped remind me of something.
We all have it.
It runs so much deeper than just physical items and clutter. It’s the emotions we associate with memories, the relationships that we have with each other.
We’re all made up of memories and experiences that make us who we are: we are made of baggage: memories, junk and clutter.
As the Nativity season draw near, this struggle between baggage and the minimalism game serves as a reminder for us to sweep back the cobwebs to clear that clutter from our hearts.
I recently read an article written by Dr. Albert Rossi and Julia Wicks about the Orthodox perspective on the ownership of time, and it reminded me of this decluttering mentality. Dr. Rossi, a theology professor at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, wrote the following:
“Every loss is a gift that God gives us so that He can give us more. It might be saying goodbye to high school or college days, a move from the old neighborhood, the loss of a job, the loss of physical or mental health. We might lose loved ones through separation or death. In degrees, the reactive thought might be, “This is the beginning of the end.” A more truthful thought would be, “This is the beginning of the beginning.” Death is the beginning of a new relationship with Christ, a fresh beginning of an entirely new life. Each loss and little death is a new beginning towards our ultimate beginning—heaven.”
It’s that loss, that separation, that brings the minimalism game into our spiritual life. Removing items from our lives to decrease the distractions should ultimately bring us closer to Christ. We’re all called to be in the world but not OF the world. That means that the things that tie us down, the junk, clutter, and stuff, it all means nothing. What really matters is what we have stored in the kingdom of Heaven, for as we hear at the end of the Divine Liturgy, “Lay aside all earthly cares, that we may receive the King of all.”