Rather than applying this to business, I just read a post on Al Garrotto’s blog called “An Edited Life.” What he’s really talking about is possessions. He and his wife sold a larger house for a smaller townhouse, which could be called downsizing, and have reduced their possessions or, at least, begun that process. I don’t think it’s downsizing, though. I think it’s right-sizing. In one of the comments from blog followers, there is reference to another web site that espouses minimalism, a laudatory goal.
As I pointed out in my comment on Al’s blog, this is an endless process. My current three rules are these:
- if I bring something into my house that’s permanent, something must be taken out
- If I ditch something, it’s one less thing that my son has to deal with at my inevitable end
- You spend the first half of your life acquiring things and the next half trying to get rid of them.
I am not always as good about this as I should be. My nemesis is papers. While the computer age was supposed to address this, I am still working full-time as a librarian/professor at Cal State East Bay and that means everything from student papers to my own research to things I need to read to other flotsam that washes up on my paper-rich job shores. I like to think that when I retire in some distant future, all these papers will be happily junked, but I fear that may not turn out to be true.
As for the rest of my possessions, there are few that I cling to: the oil portraits of my grandparents, painted by a well-known artist around the time they were married in 1902, some old photos (although I’m slowly digitizing them), a few mementos of my parents who lost much of their possessions in war and in lean times, and sentimental items from my son’s growing years. I also have books—not nearly as many as I used to, but books that are not available in e-form. If they come in e-form and I want to keep them, I buy the e-version and give away the print copy.
Of course, I’ve also acquired computers, cell phone, flat screen, DVR, and other assorted technologies, but I suspect that these will be more fleeting than the older things. I’ll have to replace them more often, I suspect, as one technology gives way to another. I love my technologies, though, because they allow me to get rid of physical objects and carry around a library on a Kindle.
All of that said, there is one thing I’ve never given up—the toys. I have a train set that belonged to my late husband’s grandfather, lead paint and all. I have a Noah’s Ark more recently acquired, no lead paint at all. I have children’s books and games and soft toys and other amusements from three generations. They keep me buoyant, even if they just lie fallow in my house. They remind me that life is supposed to be fun. This photo in front of the robot toy museum in Prague drew my eye and is one of my favorite things about visiting the castle—you see it on the way out, almost as an afterthought, but it’s the exhibit that draws me.
The sun of the fading year is somehow clearer, making leaves translucent and giving light to the approaching darkness. The toys will be with me in winter, too.