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OPINION: How this ‘Maximalist’ is learning to live with less stuff

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Nadine Wark

I once had a china set the family called “Grandma’s dishes.” They came down through the decades and beautifully graced our tables at family holidays.

When I moved into smaller quarters recently I had a dilemma. Who would take Grandma’s dishes, which had ended up in my basement?

I couldn’t coax anyone in the family to take them; the nostalgia didn’t work. So they were carefully boxed and donated to a local thrift shop.

Even after the move the downsizing continued. I heard from several people this would happen, especially if enough stuff wasn’t sold or given away.

The movers showed up at my new address with too much stuff. It wasn’t their fault, of course, and I had them take a chair and two end tables.

My niece, Sarah, came to help me purge clothing. Anxiety set in when I saw the two huge piles she was making — one for toss-outs, the other for think-abouts. The keepers stayed in the closet.

“You’ve got to think minimal, you need to become a Minimalist,” she insisted.

That word, Minimalist, creeps me out. I like being a ‘Maximalist.’ It has worked well for me and I’ve lived much longer than my niece has and somehow managed to survive with all of my stuff.

But, you know, she really was right. I did feel a sense of relief and freedom as the toss-out pile grew larger.

She burst out laughing at many of my clothing choices. And I had to remind her I was dressing for my age, not hers. But I did have to chuckle when she pulled out a jacket that looked like a garbage bag (a $5 find at a thrift shop).

The minimalist movement has been around for some time now. Living-with-less proponents use words like frugal, and self-restraint, and common sense. And they may be on to something.

Surrounded by too much stuff can indeed drag a person down and affect their mood, something you wouldn’t normally associate with physical objects.

One online site goes so far as to recommend you not have a home, or a car, or a career, or children. You just live life and travel to hard-to-pronounce places around the world and post to your own blog.

The word ‘extreme’ comes to mind here. Surely even minimalists can compromise here and there.

In the meantime, I’m thinking of returning to the thrift store. I’m curious to know whether Grandma’s dishes were ever adopted by a family in a home somewhere, one that still appreciates fine dining.


Nadine Wark is a retired office administrator and freelance writer who lives in Sarnia

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