About two months ago, during my most recent move, I decided to get rid of my journals. I have a box of old journals, full. I’ve never counted how many are in there, but if I had to guess I’d say at least 10, maybe closer to 15 or more. Then I have a few on various shelves from more recent years.
I’ve been lugging this box of old journals around with me for years. They’ve accumulated since I started keeping journals in 4th grade – I’ve been out of high school for 10 years now, so… there’s a lot of history there.
These journals have felt like a critical part of who I am for a long time. From time to time I used to look them over, reminisce and often wince at my own thinking.
In recent years, however, I’ve taken a liking somewhat to this whole minimalism thing, I guess. And I think that in part has to do with this shift where I finally feel ready to let go of these journals.
That minimalism thing all really started for me personally around 6 years ago. After a failed long-term relationship I was packing up all of my belongings to move two thousand miles away to a new state where I knew nobody. A fresh start. While packing for this move, I had a profound moment of realization. I sat in my mostly empty bedroom one morning and looked around me, and sat there, and felt at peace more than I had in a very long time. Remember – I’d just been going through a (very) rough breakup.
In a sense, I think it’s even that breakup that freed me and brought me here. It was squarely mutual – we’d spent a couple of weeks apart while he went to visit family out of state, and during our time apart we each realized that we were ready to move on and end the relationship, after a few years of trying to stick it out. Those years were rough. And once it finally ended – I cried, because I felt *so relieved* that it was over. I felt free from the constant toll the relationship was taking on my mind and spirit.
At the same time, my life felt so confusing and conflicted – but as I sat there in my empty room, with nothing but the essentials that I needed to get through my last few days before the move still left out of boxes – I felt a deep sense of freedom and peace that I hadn’t recalled ever feeling before.
I was free of this old relationship to move forward to new things, no longer tied down emotionally to negative energy, and I felt even greater relief at not having anything *physical* tying me down either.
I even wrote a blog post about it which I eventually edited to be more like a poem.
Actually, since high school I recall talking often about getting rid of my stuff. I would get these sudden urges, usually late at night, to throw most of my belongings into black trash bags and throw it all out (for some reason the bags had to be black, in my imagination). I talked about it so much that a girlfriend finally called me out on it and asked why the hell I didn’t just go ahead and do it already – and then she expressed concern. Was I depressed? Was something wrong? Why would I want to get rid of all my belongings? Was I suicidal??
But I did read an interesting article recently that noted a link between minimalism and death positivity that the author has noticed.
Along with my long-standing urge to minimize my belongings as much as possible, I’ve also had a long-standing … I never know the right word to use – “fascination” is what I always end up going with – fascination with death.
Everything around death, physically, biologically, otherwise scientifically, spiritually, culturally, personally – it deeply interests me, and has for a long time. I even have a tattoo – my only tattoo – that says “memento mori”, which for those that didn’t take Latin in high school or major in fine arts in college, means “remember you will die/your mortality”.
Just keep it mind. You’re going to die. You won’t exist forever. The way we experience time in our existence fascinates me – as it relates to death especially. It’s fascinating that people I know and love had whole entire lives before I ever existed at all. And once I’m dead, the entire world will go on for an untold period of time thereafter. The Universe will go on FOREVER. And I’ll miss it all.
I don’t mean that exactly, though. I am somewhat religious (it’s complicated), and my belief is that I AM the Universe, so I won’t REALLY miss it all. But my current state as a conscious being will cease to be, so the bundle of conscious energy that is Me now experiencing life, will never consciously know what the future holds years from now. That used to break my heart – but now it’s actually kind of boring. Because over the years I’ve become more and more comfortable with the fact that I will die – and that there will be essentially nothing after I die.
I’m mostly certain there will be nothing after I die because I remember nothing of before I was alive.
And again, I use the word “I” loosely here. I don’t take my existence too seriously. I know I’m a being that is just part of an infinite web of energy and consciousness that I’ll never know or fully understand. And that’s fine, too. I’m just enjoying being alive for now.
Which brings me back to my point – if I haven’t lost you already.
I’m interested in EXPERIENCING being alive, because I am acutely aware of the fact that I am alive for only a very, very brief time. Only a moment, really. A short, brief, glorious moment. And to me, that experience is hindered by the collecting of things. Things are as temporary as I am, and hold as much value as I do. So I respect them and where they came from (the Earth) – and I guess even out of my deep respect for the Earth, I also don’t want to accumulate things. Because all things come from Earth, and if we just keep having all these things around that we don’t really use – well, it’s a sad use of Earth’s energy and other glorious things Earth has to offer, to just kill parts of Earth to make things that sit on shelves or in storage bins while we go about our other business without those things anywhere in our mind each day. It’s a sad waste.
And it truly does take a toll on your mental energy – not to mention your physical energy. Everything in every way, it takes a toll. If you have to buy a larger home to store more things that don’t even cross your mind almost EVER, you have to work most likely to afford that house, or a storage space to store your things – and you are LITERALLY using your life’s energy and time, precious, precious energy and time you have here, to afford to store these things that never cross your mind. Things under your bed, under your shoes in the back of the closet you only go into twice a year for Halloween and Christmas decorations. Things you curse when they get in your way, things that bring up bad memories, or even good memories… it’s all the past.
And it’s good to create memories and keep memories – in your mind and your heart. But you don’t have to keep them physically. Physically, that energy is better spent creating new memories.
So yes, for me, death and minimalism ARE closely linked.
I still have that box of journals sitting here in my new place. I’m dying to get rid of them, but I’m waiting for a chance at burning them in a fire.