Right now, I am in the middle of a self-chosen alteration and simplification of my way of life. This process involves getting rid of the majority of the things I own, so that my family and I can pack four suitcases and move to Indonesia sometime this summer. And, as the simple living enthusiast and aesthete I am, I thought that this part; the part where I thin out in our abundance of things by selling them or giving them away would be easy and liberating. But so far it has proven to be really challenging.
I have been working with aesthetic sustainability for many years, and as a part hereof I have been occupied with the investigation of magical things, i.e. things that have a certain “glow” and that nourish us aesthetically. Magical things are not necessarily beautiful to look at, but they can ignite feelings and moods. Furthermore, they have the quality of making people want to spend time with them, wear them, or share the same space with them.
In my book Aesthetic Sustainability I came to the conclusion that magical things are:
- “Rare,” possessing a unique kind of beauty that is often rustic and irregular.
- “Carriers” of stories and relations
- Nice to touch or sensuously stimulating (they make one want to revisit them over and over)
- Representative of the owner’s identity and inner world or sphere of intimacy.
I own magical things, and I own insignificant things. And to “take my own medicine” I intend to thin out in my belongings with the above listed qualifications for magical things in mind. Things can indeed be magical and provide us with aesthetic nourishment and beautiful memories. But things can also be deadweight that we carry around, and that make it hard for us to develop by keeping us stuck in the past.
This Moroccan rug is staying with me – I love the aesthetic qualities of it and the story about how I got it
I have a rather big collection of books, mainly philosophy books and novels. And the big question that I am faced with at the moment, when looking through my book shelves is; which books are still important to me, which ones will I return to and need in my future writings, and which books have become unimportant to me? I have to ask myself this question, because even though we can and will store some of our belongings, my books will take up a considerable part of our storage space, if I don’t thin out. So, I am thinning out. And I am not liking it. Not at all.
Books have always been really important to me and owning a bunch of books feels like having constant access to other realities, insightful considerations and horizon expanding theories. Also, books constitute time capsules, and can send me off to lost time eras, as can music. So, separating valuable books from insignificant books is not as easy as it may sound. It is not merely a matter of considering whether or not I would ever re-read a book, but rather a question on how big an impact the particular book has had on me. Therefore, the process is time-consuming and at the moment it honestly doesn’t feel liberating at all.
Half of these books are about to leave my life…
However, with all this being said, I can feel that the process of thinning out in my belongings and letting go of a big part of them, as challenging as it may be, is an important part of the new life chapter that I am about to embark on. Thoroughly considering what to keep and what not to keep, forces me to consider what’s important to me, and why.