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Minimalism [publisher's letter]

Publisher Tracy Patterson with her dog sitting in the desert resting up from a hike

Tracy Patterson

I cannot agree more with this month’s feature article, “The Joys of Minimalism.” It’s incredible to me how much we can accumulate over the years, most of which we don’t remember that we even have once the items disappear into the abyss of our houses, garages and storage units.

The only place in the article where I kind of winced as I read it was the part about giving items to family and friends. I think it’s very important to know that they indeed want said item, and that it’s not something they take out of obligation.

A decade ago, it took an entire summer for me to go through more than 100 boxes I had been storing, and I was amazed to find how much of it was given to me by family and friends of family. From clothes to knickknacks, boxes and boxes of mostly other people’s gems came to occupy a whole room wherever I lived.

It was a painstaking ordeal to decide which pile each item would be placed in―the antique store pile, the thrift store pile, the landfill pile, or the keeping pile. The idea was that the majority of items would be in the first two, with very little going to the landfill or me.

Something I think that people underestimate is just how painful it can be to part with long-held items. I certainly found this to be so, even when they weren’t necessarily my heart things. The issue was that they were given to me by people like my grandma and my mum, so I was attached to that fact, not the actual items themselves.

Despite the emotions elicited from this vast undertaking, I persevered with my downsizing. It really did take the whole summer to assess each belonging, read through old letters and journals, and fuss over whether or not something was staying or going. There were even times when I’d set a group of items, like old crystal, out on the table to see if a piece or two “spoke” to me.

It’s true what they say, “Declutter your house, declutter your mind.” I wouldn’t say that I’m truly a minimalist, but what a feeling it is to have lightened the load to the degree that I did and to not have accumulated more unnecessary stuff over the years. Nowadays, I have no stored boxes, except some necessary tax papers and old photos. As a result of my efforts, our home feels light and airy, and we can actually park two cars in our garage!