BARE NECESSITIES

PART ONE: PAIRING DOWN

I can literally hear my sister’s vocal impression of Baloo whenever I think of this Jungle Book song. We always (to date) have fun singing the parts, my sis as the bear and me as Mowgli. True to Disney’s nature, they hid a much deeper message in those lyrics that didn’t even hit me until the other day when I had this song stuck in my head. Tiny living, ‘bare necessities?’ it was all making sense now. 

“Don’t spend your time lookin’ around for something you want that can’t be found…” 

I’m pretty organized. It’s pretty rare that I can’t find something. I do tend to hesitate to throw things away or donate them because as soon as I do, the very next day I need it. (I’m convinced it’s a subliminal level of trickery I do to myself, but I digress). After rewatching tiny living tips from my minimalist hero Josh Milburn on HGTV, I started to look around my two-bedroom rental house for things I could “pair down.”

I almost immediately convinced myself that I didn’t have anything that wasn’t worth keeping – this will be EASY! After all, when I got divorced a few years back everything I took with me fit in my car. I started over from scratch, never owned a house – how much “junk” could I have possibly accumulated in such a short time? 

Then I noticed my DVDs. In comparison to most, I don’t have a lot. But my Little House on the Prairie (don’t you dare judge me) collection took up an entire shelf by itself. This collection was sold when they hadn’t quite mastered the art of slimmer packaging, each season’s case (nine in total) was about 4 inches wide. They also weren’t formatted with closed captioning (ugh, why???), so should I just get rid of them? I really had to ask myself what it was about this collection I couldn’t let go – and the reason was the show reminded me of my Dad. 

The thing is – I didn’t have to get rid of anything (that’s not the idea behind minimalism). The idea of living tiny with less tangible things isn’t to get rid of them all, it is to identify the things you are passionate about. I needed the DVDs, not the bulky cases. Even though avid collectors would say I ruined the value, I took out all the discs and put them in a CD album. The stack of “packaging” on my floor was staggering. Yes, the pictures of the actors and the movie covers were nice, artistic even – but the amount of cardboard was surprising when it was all laid out in a pile. Before I knew it, I had a 13-gallon garbage bag FULL of just DVD cases. 

We don’t even need the entertainment center anymore. It’s just a big table for the TV which could be mounted on the wall. I had just eliminated the need for a huge piece of furniture. I find it really funny that it’s now pretty much just a big paperweight that I have to dust. It was very satisfying taking that bag out to recycle, and in truth I hadn’t gotten rid of anything! It was a valuable exercise in showing me it is ok to break some rules and customize your life to your lifestyle. 

Just like the song, “…when you find out you can live without it…the bare necessities of life will come to you…”

To be continued.

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