Addition by Subtraction

I started Simply in the Suburbs because I fell in love with this idea of living a more minimimalist lifestyle.

I loved the idea of getting rid of clutter – physical, emotional, mental – and being a generally more serene, focused person.

I still love the idea and still want to do these things, but it’s not in my skillset.

My wife, on the other hand, has started slowly going through our house, taking one space at a time, clearing out stuff we’ve not used for years, and bringing some semblance of peace to different areas in our home.

She pointed out a pile of VHS tapes and DVDs and told me to go through and get rid of what I didn’t want.

The phrase ‘VHS tapes’ should be an indicator that I should get rid of it. I put these old videos into a paper bag marked for donation and trudged them out to my trunk.

The tough part for me when I get rid of things I haven’t looked at in 10 years (or even 20), is that I feel like I’m leaving something behind. I feel like I’m cutting myself off from some important bit of my past. This feeling was strong when I donated all of my textbooks from seminary to a church that got damaged by a tornado (what a fine fellow I am!).

The thing is…. When I remove this stuff, which is all that it is – stuff, I’m not deleting my past.  All of the things I’ve done are still a part of who I am. I still remember watching these old UGA videos for the first time, hearing some of Larry Munson’s hilarious, exhilarating, and moving calls from the 70s and 80s.  I remember getting into slightly more interesting Christian music back in the early 90s. The fact that the stuff is in drawers, never used, doesn’t help these memories.

I don’t need the stuff.

Getting rid of the stuff doesn’t get rid of the history and the influences.  But it does clear the way to add new things. It clears space to allow for mental rest and to allow my kids to start bringing in the things that are important to them or for me to refocus on doing the things that are important to me now as a 45 year old man.

By subtracting stuff, I’m adding margin.

And the margins are where we can grow.

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