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  • Caitrin McElroy

The Minimalism Game | Week 1

We’re on Day 9 of the Minimalism Game - just about a third of the way through.

So far Meg, my husband Jonathan, and I have all rid ourselves of 45 belongings.

This is my third time playing, and I expected something...different. Having gone through two 465-item purges, I thought I’d know what to expect, what I’d feel, and how I’d want to tackle my things.

On the contrary, I feel like I’m doing this for the first time.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that becoming a minimalist hasn’t been easy for me, and it hasn’t come naturally. In these past nine days I’ve learned that I still cling to sentimental items, as if I haven’t fought this battle before. Not the same things, of course, and I have gotten better at reasoning with consumer-Caitrin, but my brain still falls down the same rabbit holes.

The last two times I let go of my stuff I said goodbye to belongings from my childhood and school years. Now I cling to the memories that my husband and I have made in this past year and a half together. This dress is what I wore on our date to the zoo, I thought to myself as I put it on to see if it’s something worth keeping. Then the same pattern. A pang of happiness, followed by reminiscent sadness. I'm overcome with a sense of guilt, that coming-of-age bitterness, like I’m thoughtlessly tossing aside something that means the world to me.

It takes me a moment to realize I’m being unreasonable, and I get there with the help of my husband.

“I have no feelings about that dress,” he says while looking me up and down with a straight face. “It’s nice...definitely keep that last one you put on, though!”

Jonathan doesn’t even remember what I wore on our date to the zoo, and why should I expect him to? We cherish those memories not because of what I was wearing or what he was wearing, but because of the fun we had together. And while the dress might jog my memory, getting rid of the dress doesn’t get rid of the memory. These next 21 days I promise myself to remain mindful of that idea.

This Minimalist Monday, if you find yourself struggling to donate more belongings, repeat this mantra: things are not memories.

If you’ve decided to join the Minimalism Game, let us know how it’s going for you, and be on the lookout for more minimalist musings next Monday!

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