| 1031 words

So I'm moving again, and at first I was a little disappointed. Partly because of the emotions of leaving the apartment where I lived and painstakingly decorated for over a year; leaving what is probably the nicest apartment I'll ever have. However a big part of it is also just due to the practical realities of the chores that come with moving. The daunting effort to pack up every single little possession, summon movers, take down every iota of personalization and put it all back up somewhere unfamiliar.

However the more I think about, and the further I get through the moving and packing process, the more I realize the opportunity that moving presents. The way it forces you to examine what you want and what you need. Really introspect about the nature of the mountains of pure stuff most of us invariably have laying around.

I like to think of myself as pretty minimalist. I don't have a lot of stuff, and I like to only keep things if I'm really they add value to my life. For those who have heard of Marie Kondo, which I'm sure most people have, this philosophy might sound familiar, but I'd suspect most fans of hers haven't truly internalized it. She instructs us to only keep items that 'spark joy'.

It's hard to really understand what this means without having gone through the painful process of moving yourself. Some things are obvious. Those antique dining plates your grandmother gifted you? An obvious joy sparker, definitely keep. That nice set of candles you've been meaning to use? Maybe a little more ambiguous, but if you like candles then it's not a hard decision to keep it.

But there's so much stuff that you didn't even know you had, that falls into the grey area. After all, nobody getting rid of stuff often just amounts to throwing it away. The half-used stack of old construction paper that still has a few nostalgic doodles on it. It's nice to look at and brings back some memories, but does it really spark joy? Truly? How about that old notebook you got as a gift but never really ended up using? Throwing away a hardly used notebook feels so wasteful, but who would want a dusty old secondhand notebook when you can get new ones for just $10? Half the items you keep with the goal of giving away will just languish forgotten in some cubby somewhere.

You have to be ruthless when moving. Being wishy-washy and unwilling to commit just leads you down the path of clutter, renting storage lockers, and eventually a detached house with an unsuable 2 car garage full of old junk. Fun, whimsical, even useful junk at times. But ultimately not worth the space it takes up (I guess unless you have already big house and a lot of storage). Keeping things should not be the default, unless perhaps you're a professional archiver, getting rid of them is. Each item you take should be done so intentionally, not just because it was there and you couldn't think of an alternative.

This is not to say that there's no room for sentimental keepsakes. However you must be intentional about such sentimentality. Is it worth preserving that old letter forever? Are you willing to put it somewhere safe knowing you'll take good care of it and come back to it throughout the years? Anything other than an enthusiastic yes probably means it should be tossed. It's sad, but the ultimate reality is that it would be unfeasible to keep every single letter you felt vaguely familiar towards.

Of course this is where digital preservation can be invaluable. For those keepsakes that you wish you could take but that are not truly worth the space, that doesn't mean you have to give up on the memories they hold. Taking pictures, scanning documents, transcribing old notes; all these are a cheap and effective way to hold on to those dear keepsakes. Sometimes it's even superior to having the original - you're only a few clicks away from reliving those memories and sharing them with others.

The ultimate result of undergoing this painful yet transformative process is that your home will be filled with beauty and intention. Everywhere you look, you'll see only the things that you actively fought for. All around you there should be items that really truly spark joy within. Each trinket and memento will have a reason that you kept it - each one will have its own story to tell.

I personally am not a fan of houses with tons of storage. Dozens of identical items drinkware and cutlery filling up rows of cabinets feels uninspired to me. I'd rather have fewer plates and glasses, each one unique and beautiful in its own way, on display on open kitchen shelves like treasures in a musem. In general I want to keep my posessions out where I can see them. They make me happy after all; who wouldn't want to look around and see their favorite things.

That's why I prefer decluttering to just organization. Sometimes organizing can feel like you're just mechanically finding a place to put things you didn't even know you had, until the next time they somehow appear of their own volition onto some much needed counter space. I find that after decluttering, organization naturally follows. When you don't burden yourself with too much stuff, each item naturally finds its own place to rest.

So yeah. That's why I don't mind moving. I'm kind of looking forward to it even. I'm so good at travelling light, it's time I learned to live light as well. It's why I wouldn't really mind moving again next year, or maybe even every year. It's a chance to take stock of all my things, truly interrogate myself about what to keep, and then I get to see everything in a fresh new light in my fresh new home.