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i tossed a table today


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I tossed a table today. It was ratty and made me cringe every time I looked at it. The only reason I accepted it was because at the time nothing better was available and I felt that I needed it.

I tossed that table today even though I have yet to locate a replacement. I tossed it once I realized that it was better to do without than to constantly look at something I hate.

Sometimes we get things just because we think we need them. Other times we hold on to things we hate for the exact same reason.

We are all much too beautiful to hoard garbage; too precious to dress in rags. When we keep stuff like that we are telling ourselves that we don’t deserve any better – we are sending out a signal that says “I don’t deserve to own something that I love.”

As a child I watched my grandfather dress in tatters. When he died I was astounded to discover boxes and drawers stuffed full of clothing still in the original packaging when we cleaned out his home. I discovered that the whole family had spent small fortunes on clothes that he refused to wear.

His reasoning was that his old clothes weren’t worn out enough to throw away. Despite the holes and the rips he dressed in those rags and hid the good stuff away. He saved those clothes “just in case” he needed them – and died wearing rags instead.

All of us have a habit of doing this, of using the rags and hoarding the riches or just using the rags, period. We forget that we are special and that we deserve to enjoy our lives and so we “make do” instead.

Minimalism frees us from this concept. When we only keep what we need there is no point in saving the good stuff “just in case.” We can use the good stuff and eliminate the rest.

Had my grandfather applied minimalism to his life he could have used his “regular” clothes to start fires and dressed much better than he ever did. If my father had done that he could have actually enjoyed his favorite suit while still living instead of leaving it sit in a closet until he was buried in it.

Minimalism allows me the freedom to eliminate clothes that do not fit, items that have worn out…

…and tables so ratty that I’m embarrassed to own them.

As you look around your house today choose one thing that you are embarrassed to own (that pair of stained underwear, the shoes your dog chewed on, that hideous lamp given to you by your Great Auntie Whoever) and get rid of it. Toss it in the trash, carry it out to the curb, break it up and toss it in the fire – do whatever it takes to get that one thing out of your life right now.

Think about how you feel and tell your story in the comments below. Share this post with your friends and ask them to leave their thoughts as well. Thank you.



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7 Comments

  1. bio filo wrote:

    Nice story! I remember My Grandmother at 83 saying that She was saving this or that for the “good” and I reminded Her that now is the good and the only thing ,any of us really has . She did not yell, pinch Me or even scratch Me with Her fingernails, but said “hmm You might be right” a first time for everything I suppose ,hehe.

    Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  2. Lois wrote:

    My grandfather was similar, he didn’t wear things that were ratty, instead patched and repaired everything until they became ratty. You couldn’t buy him a present because he said he didn’t need anything. If you did give him a gift he would ask if you still had the receipt and if so would give it back to you to return. That was his way of not having things sitting around until his current one wore out. When he died, we found 3 brand new wallets he never used, he had a nice soft leather one that held up for so many years that he never got to use the ones given to him.

    My boys when little wanted to give him a card for his birthday, they found this one that looked like a diploma and said World’s Greatest Grandfather. The boys signed it and presented it to him. That gift he saved. He hung it on the wall in his breezeway where he loved to while away the afternoons. The reason this was important was not only the sentiment behind it but because he said it was the only diploma he ever received.

    Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  3. Suzanne wrote:

    Annie,
    I’m not so sure people need to be minimalists in order to allow themselves to get rid of ugly, worn-out or unwanted items; Rather, some need to get over the ‘guilt’ associated with tossing items that have outlived their usefulness .. or the similar guilt they might feel, having hung onto an item of furniture (for example) that they intended to ‘fix-up’ .. but never got round to.

    I’m not a ‘minimalist’, not in the sense that I feel the need to reduce items by number, at least. I live in less than 300 square feet, have a beautiful, art filled cabin in the mountains and nothing ‘ratty’ in or out of sight.

    The trick, for me, lies in ‘editing’ possessions, so that whatever you choose to keep is there because it adds joy to your life in some way. If you’re using space for things you actually like, maintaining them is not the ‘chore’ some people claim to be eradicating by going without. .. It doesn’t ‘pain’ me to run a duster over my pictures or to hand wash my pretty dishes, nor do I ever get the feeling that I’m ‘wasting’ time or could be doing something more ‘productive’, since a big part of what makes me happy is tied to the calm I feel in a beautiful environment.

    This doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either; Everything in my tiny house (except the mattress) has come from thrift stores and the Goodwill .. Some things have even been picked up from the side of the road or the local dumpster. I love the thought that other people’s cast-offs are getting a new lease of life and a little love from a new owner. When the time comes, I’ll also happily give up what is only a temporary ‘ownership’ of ‘stuff’ and send these items on to their new homes.

    A pretty tablecloth might have given your table a new lease of life .. It’s all in the way you see things. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” .. thank goodness ! I understand the concept of ‘minimalism’ making some people feel ‘free’ .. but there is often a sense of ‘deprivation’ that comes across, regardless .. and that, to me, hints at a sort of ‘martyred’ approach to life and living .. which ultimately can translate itself into the kind of behaviour you mention in your post.

    Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink
  4. Francesca wrote:

    Mmmmm this is food for thought.And on that note I will take off my pilled cardigan and change. Thanks Annie.

    Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink
  5. Chris wrote:

    I’ve noticed that when you get rid of something, it creates a vacuum for something new. So now that you’ve gotten rid of the hated table, you’re making space for a new one. Don’t be surprised when one shows uo.

    Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink
  6. Chris wrote:

    I mean “up”.

    Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  7. sheila wrote:

    Yes, I agree! Keeping anything that you don’t need or love is not usually worth it… I have been getting rid of lots of things like this… my biggest thing is things I think I am going to fix, or paint.

    Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink
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