05 February 2012

Notes from a pack rat with minimalist desires: In the beginning

A year ago now, in the beginning, I began on my progression into a minimalist lifestyle.  I looked around my apartment at all the things I had collected, all the things that I had made and accumulated over the years, and felt oppressed and unhappy.  As many minimalist share documentation of how few objects they possess, I thought a way to portray the breadth of my ownership would be to make a record, a count, a catalogue of sorts, of all of my possession with the intention of decreasing the final number of objects by, at the least, fifty percent.  The process of cataloging helped me determine which objects I used, which objects I hung on to for sentimental or irrational reasons, and which objects were entirely obsolete (though some time had for the fun of it).   

After three months of photographing and cataloging and not having made it outside of my 10 x 2 foot closet, I realized the full scope of what I had set out to do and how much I really owned.  Too much time, I thought, was being spent on an idea that was meant to decrease my commitment to material objects, not increase it.  Even after my thesis show, in which I exhibited the accomplished state of The Catalogue, and after I moved from my previous residence into a much smaller flat (not having gotten rid of anything in the move), I had the notion of continuing.  To save on time, I thought, I would forgo the process of photographing each object and instead make the record of what the object is and its usefulness.  Even still, this took some time and the longer I spent with the objects I had, the less I was getting rid of, having determined to not proceed into the second phase of the project (the elimination of objects) until I had finished the first (the inventory of objects).  

 I came to realize that the process I had set up previously still worked, and that I was able to evaluate the objects I owned, but that I could instead now do so independently of the elongated task of recording every single thing.  And thus, I abandoned the notion of The Catalogue being a public document; and though this aspect of the project has been dissolved, the fundamental intention is very much alive and continuing.