The Quality of Life

Decluttering teaches me some basic wisdom. Going through old things, getting rid of many of them (including some postcards and notes from friends, which is a heart-ripping activity) the old idea downs on me. We spend so much of our life worrying about things and money – but in the end of the day it’s people that matter.

We spend our lives working hard for money, buying stuff, accumulating things – and then we discover that we need to declutter, to get rid of much in order to get a better quality of life. Time flies. We may stress over various aspects, focus on different areas of our life. But at certain times we cast a look over all our possessions and realize that all that hardship and stress was unnecessary. As someone reminded, on their deathbed people don’t ask for their diplomas, trophies or things – they want to be surrounded by the people that matter to them.

Somewhere on the subway I have seen a commercial for the storage services, and it had this tagline: “The more you live, the more space you need”. It referred to different kinds of people, sport enthusiasts, parents, nonconformists, who collect things and need extra space to store them. Something felt wrong with this tagline. And then my man expressed this for me: “This sentence is wrong. The more you live – the less space you should need”. Right!

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An Attempt at Minimalism

When I worked in the Danish design store of jewelry and living, I liked telling the story behind the product because the story makes it more personal. I would often tell my customers: “When it comes to such things as jewelry, we want it to have meaning: either they are a gift from somebody dear, a heritage, or they have a story you can connect to”. I was not making things up, this has become my own truth too. I would say: “With clothes, I can go and buy some cheap t-shirt and throw it away next summer. With jewelry, I want it to last many years and have some special memory every time I use it. This is why I like when my necklace is a gift, even if I could buy it myself. And it is ok to give presents to yourself too, if you want to mark an occasion that is special for you. It is also ok when they cost some money – choosing and thinking over is all the part of the process. You would not want some cheap thing – it would not have the same value for you over time”.

I have come to realize that my relationship with things has changed. A lot. Growing up in a very turbulent time in Ukraine, right after the collapse of Soviet Union, I was not spoiled by things. I remember wearing my mom’s shirts and my dad’s flared jeans (I was kinda hippie and loved the 70s style). I remember shopping at second hand. My jewelry was self-made necklaces and friendship bracelets which fitted with the eccentric style of my hippie friends. While my girl peers were busy with make-up, pretty clothes and boyfriends, I couldn’t care less about it. I focused on studying and dreamt about getting into the Moscow university, filling my time and fancy with rock’n’roll music, the Beatles, drawing and making up stories with my friend. I was a typical dreamer.

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