So often in my life I have felt like my personality was split in two and the two opposite sides were fighting each other: the me that wants exercise and a healthy body against the me that wants to sit on the sofa with a Pepsi and a HoHo. Or perhaps the me that wants world peace and the me that is willing to fight a lady to the death over the last gallon of the “good” milk at the grocery store.
The worst battle of the personalities for me has been the fight between my inner hoarder and my less powerful but equally annoying inner minimalist. I believe I have mentioned before that my tendencies are to be a hoarder. Every once in a while, though, while I am musing to myself over a wadded up bunch of paper napkins and straws at the back of the cupboard, “I might be able to use them someday, I should save them,” I will turn and find my inner minimalist shaking out a new garbage bag, murmuring, “You’re not really going to keep those, are you?”
Even though I am mostly a hoarder, I have always admired those people who knew when to throw it out. They can see the clothes hanging in the back of the closet that haven’t fit or been in style since the 1970s and they can quietly put them out of their misery in the bottom of a garbage can. For me, my minimalist instinct is frequently combated by the hoarder, who is sure these clothes will return to fashion just as I am returning to the svelte, teenage figure I had in the 1970s. (Yes, I did!)
I read a story about a woman who moved from a five-bedroom, multi-level home into a house no larger than her former bathroom. In order to do so, she had to trim her belongings down to nothing. She operated with dining ware for one, which I thought was foolish. But my inner minimalist said, “Of course! That way, she can’t have other people over, so she doesn’t need dishes for them to eat from! Then, she doesn’t need an extra chair for them to sit in or a place to put the chair.”
Like I said, I admire this and sometimes my inner minimalist will get the upper hand in the battle. That’s when I start throwing things away, cleaning out living spaces, clearing away the rest of those empty boxes that have been there for ages, and ejecting all of the unidentifiable food from the refrigerator. These minimalist fevers usually last for a day or so, and then the hoarder regains the upper hand and I’m out in the garbage can, frantically trying to retrieve pillows, yellow with age and leaking stuffing everywhere, because you never when you may need them!
There is one spot in all of this battle where the minimalist can’t win and that is in regard to books. When I finish a book, the two inner voices are right there, whispering over my shoulder, “You should put that book right down on the books shelves, so you can read it again someday — after you’ve read the other four hundred books you have.” At the same time, over the other shoulder, the minimalist is shaking its head, muttering, “Books should be shared; and you really should think about getting an e-book reader–takes up way less space.”
It’s true, I have a lot of books. If ever my house is bombed, my plan is to burrow in under the massive pile of my books. Those books might just save me by their literal mass. Can an e-book reader do that? My inner minimalist has no answer!
However, as I said, the inner minimalist does get the upper hand sometimes, but unfortunately, the fight against my inner hoarder is an uphill battle. It doesn’t stop the minimalist from trying, though. For every time my hoarder says, “keep all of those thousand grocery bags, you may need them,” my minimalist is there commenting, “One of those bags would make a great trash bag to hold the rest of them…you’re not really going to keep those, are you?”
The struggle is real!