Moving: My Two Questions to Sift ….Stuff

Since I signed my first lease 9 years ago, I’ve moved twelves times, including my most recent jaunt. In the same year I signed that first lease (on adulthood), The Weakerthans released their album Reunion Tour with one of most thoughtful odes to moving. This song beautifully portrays the feeling of leaving an old apartment behind, moving to new spaces and places, a time perfectly poised to push you into reflection.

This September 1st, Derek and I moved into a lovely new apartment. We shuffled the move around a trip to Canada, myself leaving early to help get ready for #aaronandbecca2016, while Derek, slowly but surely, biked our belongings in small boxes and awkward loads across the inner city from one furnished apartment to another. I returned to do only a final sweep and unpack into our new abode.

Moving, though a royal pain, is one of my favourite opportunities. It’s the easiest time of the year to practice a minimalist lifestyle. I strive to live a simple lifestyle with varying levels of success, but I am most successful during an apartment move. Every time I move, I have to sift through all the things I’ve collected over that year or two. Particularly with furnished apartments, the items I move can generally be labeled ‘stuff’. Because moving is such a pain, it’s a great time to make a break with that stuff that doesn’t deserve the sweat required to shuttle it to a new place.

Duna view
Duna view between the old and new.

My Two Questions

Most recently, I’ve been using a butchered but reasonably effective version of the KonMari Method. I, like a lot of people, have as much emotional attachment to items from the memories and people associated with them, as the physical usefulness of them. Both emotional and utilitarian values are important to me, and my most treasured items have a combination of the two factors. So, in determining if I keep an item, I first ask ‘Does it bring me joy?’ and ‘Do I use it?’.

This combination of questions works on everything from kitchen gadgets to dress shoes. I’ve kept items that aren’t useful at all, but stir up the best memories, such as all my correspondence and cards, sorted by year and tucked into a shoebox. I’ve gotten rid of the most useful items that I should, yet never, use, including a French grammar book, and realize that the guilt of “Oh, I should really….” is not a reason to lug something along.  I’ve also given away items where the emotional attachment didn’t outweigh its impracticality. For example, a tee-shirt that was thoughtfully given, but not thoughtfully selected may have a warm emotional association, but its poor fit means I never wear it, making it not useful. Not necessarily useless to me, but not useful. I’m slowly trying to ensure the items I bring forward with me are both useful and joyful.

New neighbourhood view
A new neighbourhood view

My Indulgence

Currently, my biggest weakness is books. So many books. I laughed in appreciation and awareness of this bookish Sarah’s Scribble’s comic. (Also, if you’re a twenty-something gal and haven’t yet read her comics – you’re welcome). It’s easy to see the value books offer, but it’s also easy to feel their weight. A good book should stay with you, even if the physical copy is gone. It took me a long time to learn this, enjoying the look of a full bookshelf, reflecting on the stories told and ideas postulated. However, I needed to admit to myself I rarely, if ever, read a book a second time. Sometimes I’ll flip through for a passage, concept or quotation, or pass it on to a friend. Yet, most often, they simply sit on a shelf and collect dust. This time around, I decided to sell half of the books I have here (into the seller’s market of English-language used books in Budapest). Only half, as I’m still working on my minimalism, and I’m a sucker for a handsome shelf. Does that make me shelfish?

Making space for joyful things.
Making space for joyful things. Art: Alison Uhma

I must admit, I’m becoming more comfortable and attached to things as I grow older. Yet, I also become more conscious and economical in the ways in which I consider the items I keep with me. It’s an on-going process and internal conversation. As much as I would like to engage in this decluttering process continuously, I find nothing more effective than a move.

What about you? What is your moving process? How do you decide what to keep and what to toss?


2 thoughts on “Moving: My Two Questions to Sift ….Stuff

  • September 12, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Good treatise on stuff. I agree on all of your points but the implementation is hard. Moving is a great incentive to put these principles into action. I enjoyed your story and will remember it as I sift.

    • September 12, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed, Moira! And I totally agree – the implementation is the hardest part, and it’s easiest when you’re forced to do it for one reason or another.

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