In my May 12, 2013 post “Slipping at Integritea” I made reference to a “ten year plan” for de-cluttering my life. At long last, I am pleased to share a more detailed overview of the admittedly eccentric experiment, which I hope will help me minimize my possessions and overcome a life-time of susceptibility to wanting, buying, collecting and hoarding “things”.
The initiative was instituted on my fortieth birthday and set at a term of ten years ~ with hopes that by the age of fifty I would have adequately “used up” and “utilized” all the things around me I have accumulated over the past four decades. At the significant age of a half century, I hope to start a new phase of life ~ having pared down my belongings and disciplined myself to be a better judge of my own “needs” and “wants”. Regretfully I confess that, on one occasion, I did compromise the plan (gave into pressure by family to buy a new belt when my old one broke and I resorted to using suspenders/braces that embarrassed my wife and kids) ~ but overall, the past year and a half has gone surprisingly well.
For years I had already been devoted to mending my own clothes/shoes and trying to minimize new purchases. At least three pairs of shoes I still actively wear are approximately twenty-five years old…of the three suits I own, two were purchased over eleven years ago (both still appropriate for wedding events I attended last weekend), with the third more casual wool suit dating back to the 1960’s. It (along with several other articles of my clothing) belonged to my grandfather who passed away in 1981 (yes, you read that properly, 1981!).
Just three weeks ago, I was forced to fully retire my twenty-three year old steel toed work boots which had reached a completely dysfunctional stage. They hiked me across England and Scotland when I was a younger man and also helped me harvest many garden plots throughout my life. Their last public appearance was at a show in Oxfordshire last November, where I had the pleasure of singing at Willowbrook Organic farm. They are now in the process of being dismantled ~ their leather to be re-purposed into a little wallet for me to carry for another 25 years ~ God willing.
The Ten Year Plan’s stipulations are as follows:
~ Due to the excessive attire I have in my possession, acquired through purchasing or as gifts, I have decided not to buy any new clothing (with the exception of items such as: under-garments, socks and possibly shoes, all of which tend to wear out more rapidly from excessive wearing and washing than other accessories).
~ An effort will be made to maintain self-respect and dignity in dress through repairing damaged or torn items personally. Completely degenerated articles of clothing that are thread bare, visibly stained, torn or frayed will be recycled into rags and pillow stuffing or cut into pieces for bed quilts.
~ Any articles of clothing that are retired, will be replaced with ones made of cotton, wool, tweed, flannel, leather, canvas etc. and void of synthetic (plastic) materials.
~ If need be, second hand clothing stores supporting charitable efforts will be patronized over standard department stores for garments that must be replaced (with the exception of socks and undergarments).
~ Gifts of clothing will be accepted, however, they will be subjected to a “one year condition”. If I am not inclined to wear the garment during a one year span, out of a personal distaste for it, the article will be donated to charity.
Due to the incredible number of personal possessions I have acquired over the past four decades, it is my intention to carry out the following steps with regards to specific items:
~ Musical Instruments: For the rest of my life I will refrain from purchasing any duplicate musical instruments to the ones already in my possession. Any duplicate musical instruments I currently own will be minimized to one. If I purchase any new type of musical instrument to learn, I will sell off one of the existing instruments in my possession. I will never publicly perform with a guitar/mandolin/banjo etc. that retails new for more than $1000 USD, as a way of minimizing the commonly seen images of “pop stars with expensive guitars” and reflecting my view that: music should be accessible to the masses of people with modest incomes and savings.
~ Books and CDs: For the next ten years, I will not buy another book for my library until I have read all the books I currently own ~ unless I donate/gift one book from my existing collection to counter balance any new book I may aquire. Nor will I personally purchase any new CDs or DVDs. If I am gifted with a book, CD or DVD I will accept the gift but will allot myself one year to enjoy the material, after which time, if I decide to keep it, I will donate an older CD, DVD or book from my existing library. Electronic media (iTunes downloads for example, will be minimized to no more than the equivalent of one album purchased per month, maximum.)
~ Tools: Basic workshop tools and accessories (screws/nails/nuts/bolts, sandpaper, saw blades etc.) will be purchased only if absolutely necessary and as long as it is anticipated that they will be utilized frequently in on-going projects ~ otherwise, tools will be borrowed or rented on an “as-needs-basis”. Again, tools made primarily out of metals and wood will be purchased over anything made of plastic. (As a general rule, I do not use any power tools in my workshop, with the exception of an electric drill from time to time, but even then, my hand cranked drill is preferred.)
~ General Items: A similar course of action to the above noted “Musical Instruments/Books & CDs” will also apply to general, personal household items received as gifts. No new personal items (nicknacks, artworks, furniture, studio equipment etc.) will be purchased unless absolutely necessary and no new hobbies or collections will be initiated unless older ones are liquidated. Existing hobbies (and their respective collections/paraphernalia) which are not referenced, utilized or engaged in after two years will be assessed and either liquidated or re-engaged for a probationary period.
One year and a half down…eight and a half to go…and who knows, maybe I will renew the plan for another decade between the ages of fifty and sixty!