Miscalculating My Mess

This past winter, my friend – henceforth known as Pickles – challenged me to the 30-Day Minimalism Game (full details here). Each day we were to chronicle what we donated or tossed; e.g. one item on Day 1, two on Day 2, etc.

I didn’t want to play because, between regular (long) hours in The Young Human and at physical therapy, my bed beckoned. But Pickles was facing off against her charming Picklettes, so she wanted adults to play, too.

I told her I’d encourage her and comment on her photos, but I couldn’t do the daily updates. After all, I don’t have a smartphone and I deliberately cut back on having a so-called digital life. 

Secretly, I planned to cheat. I’d just figure out the total, spend a weekend collecting items, and post a list at the end. However….

There are 465 items to “win” the challenge.

FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY AND FIVE!!!

It was impossible.

On Day Nine, there should have been 45 things in the donation box or the dump. There were nineteen in the former. The three trashed items were worn-out clothes that I immediately replaced. I couldn’t find anything more unless I got rid of things I had already decided to keep. I began to consider how to cheat without breaking the rules. For example, there are 52 cards in a deck, plus jokers.

But I wasn’t going to lie to my friend. I told Pickles that I could be her cheerleader, not a player.

I admit I was more baffled than thrilled by how much I’d pared down my belongings. I’d streamlined my life to make room for writing – and It showed. So why did I think I had so much superfluous stuff?

I figured it out a few days ago.

When it comes to projects involving material possessions, I grossly miscalculate how big and bad they will be.

Case in point: My rooms at The Young Human Factory needed to be organized and packed up.

Last Friday marked the end of another year.  A crew and equipment arrived this week to tear off the roof and replace it. In-between, I had to prepare for the inevitable fallout of a construction project.

My colleagues and I weren’t given any instructions, just warned that we cannot return until July. Even the custodians, who know everything, had only a bare outline. Therefore, I set an entire Saturday afternoon aside to gather summer materials, clear all horizontal surfaces, and pack away items in (I hope) dust-proof places.

Less than three hours was all it took.

That included sorting through several binders of paperwork given to me  by a former colleague.* I was amazed that even the office, which seems disorganized during the year, needed superficial changes

I begin to wonder how many other projects that I view with dread – rearranging the garden, organizing boxes of photos – aren’t nearly as bad as they appear.


*She lasted less than five years in the profession and went to work for the military in some capacity. No doubt she uses the skills she learned in The Young Human Factory to break the wills of recalcitrant spies or something similar.