On some lunch breaks some lifetimes ago, I would walk along the piers and beaches, my mind emptying itself of that morning’s stressors, and I might catch a speedboat, yachts leisurely enjoying the day or massive cruise ships that were like portable skyscrapers, and I’d wonder: How can I switch places? This wasn’t out of envy for the rich or out of want for sailing, rather: How can I afford a lifestyle of daily leisure?
I spend days off working on infrastructure changes and workdays maintaining my sanity. I can do some light “infrastructure” changes like moving things around or sifting through a box of stuff, though mostly I’ll spend my early mornings and late evenings “maintaining” my workload, including catching up on my editing, so my weekends aren’t stuck editing five essays. It’s a tricky balance. If I clear out maintenance tasks, I can make massive infrastructure changes quickly.
My biggest regret in life might be buying too much stuff. People come and go in life. You can get new jobs. Those things which become broken can be fixed or mended, mostly. But when I look back over ten year’s worth of salary and see how far that’s gotten me, there are tinges of regret scattered through the $1 CDs I’m sifting through and the more expensive purchases that I squandered money on almost needlessly.
Similar to how when you’re working on a widget that won’t turn its regular route you have to tighten it to loosen it, in life going full-bore into certain tasks will grant you success, and sometimes more often perhaps, failure. Throughout this downsizing process, I’ve been learning to similarly adapt. If I can’t proceed with a particular problem, rather than continuing to go full-bore, I’m learning to look from different perspectives. Example: My downsizing walls.
When I last lived in an apartment, I partially furnished my cheap 1-bedroom with dumpster objects: A TV stand became my dresser, I didn’t need to buy assorted chairs, and anything else halfway useful became mine. I try to limit myself now to just clean cardboard boxes since they can be used for storage or donations, but still… there are tempting objects that “could be useful” “someday.” I have to remember my move out… dates.
My dreams have three main types, where other than incomprehensible, they’re usually contemporary to current events or where I’d like to go in life. When I haven’t addressed current woes, my dreams might be abstract nightmares where I’ll be thrust into threatening situations. When I’ve decluttered my contemporary obligations, my dreams will explore where I could go next. I had one of these forward-thinking dreams last night after a day spent decluttering any contemporary stresses.
There are myriad downsizing constructs like “one in, one out” that logically make sense, but don’t address the roots of clutter: An overattachment to objects that might have initially made us happy but no longer do. My concert shirt collection is broken into three categories: Frequently worn indoors, occasionally worn outdoors, and seldom worn outdoors. I stopped splurging on new shirts about six months ago. I’m more critical now, which meant one in… three out.
Over a lengthy career, which includes many contracted projects wherein we could keep any approved hardware so long as we were careful about what and how much, I acquired too many boxes of computer equipment. Mainly spare cables and peripherals. As society moves away from needing as much spare troubleshooting equipment and personnel, I too must adapt. How many power cables do I need? Network cables? How many spare computer parts should I keep around?
I hadn’t realized the weight of cassette tapes throughout all the time I’d listened to them in my old car until I had to move five milk cartons full of them. They’re heavy! As I looked through the top stacks of cassettes, too, I realized I didn’t care enough about one, two, then twenty cassettes, before asking myself: What if I only kept five cassettes? Some changes in perspectives help shape your major life goals.
Autonomy is the major crux of every downtrodden colleague or employed individual I’ve ever met. They will complain about how they haven’t got this, haven’t received that, and will tell any pity stories they can to gain sympathy. I can empathize with their pain, however, I will not take it on because of one reason: We have more time in our day than we think. With my work schedule, I estimated three hours for self-development.