I don’t really like people or things that hang around without a purpose or a job. I’m convinced that people and things (animals or “stuff”) that don’t have a job to do don’t like themselves either. That little candle holder in my bathroom that someone got for me on vacation that collects dust – it hates itself. That’s why it found itself in the garage sale box recently.
This idea of not having a bunch of useless people, things, animals or emotions loafing around goes by lots of names, depending on who you ask. Minimalism, thriftiness, bare essentials, resourcefulness, simplicity…whatever. The common thread is that life thrives on purpose. Anything or anyone that doesn’t have a purpose will flounder.
I’ve found immeasurable satisfaction in my life by throwing out the unproductive junk in my life. I’ve been relentlessly ransacking my house, whittling down the excess, letting go of stuff that sucks the life out of me because it sits around, mocking me with its dust collection.
Ever since I began spawning little people, my obsession with paring down has grown because let’s face it, when you have a bunch of little devils running around your house day in and day out, do you really need a bunch of extra stuff for them to break, steal, smear body fluids on or otherwise destroy? I found out all too quickly that little what-nots sitting on tables are absolutely pointless when you have kids…well just pointless in general, really. They’re energy suckers that you have to worry about, clean and organize.
I realized somewhere in this last year that I spent more time organizing my crap than I did almost anything else. Day after day, my to-do list was filled with memos reminding me to organize the craft cabinet or tidy the linen closet or clean out the school area. That linen closet had a total of about 5 items we actually used on a regular basis. The rest? Useless old sheets, curtains and table cloths that hadn’t been used since Friends was on prime time.
I also have this obsession with living things needing a reason to be alive. Fru Fru little purse dogs and hamsters really chap my hide. Do they do anything? Besides eat and poo all over the place, absolutely not. Now don’t mistake me for a Grinch. I know there are some things in this life that are just purely “joy”. Something you just like to look at and enjoy. I love depression era carnival glass. It makes me feel happy to look at it in my China cabinet. I won’t let anyone use it or touch it. It just sits there. And I stare at it and feel happy. We all need something like this. But rooms full of perfectly preserved and useless items that we humans collect? Unnecessary, I say. But I digress.
Back to the living things. We have what I’d call a small farm. I long to produce most of the food we eat because our industrial food system is flawed and poisoned. I love raising animals and watching them frolic around the pasture. They bring me joy, but they also bring bacon and eggs, baby! I am constantly mentally running through each animal we have and whether they are truly serving a purpose. If one is not pulling its weight by serving and producing for me in return for feeding and caring for it, it’s out of here.
For a humorous and detailed little look into our farm animals and the purposes they serve, see this post.
One last thought-nugget I have to bring up is the importance of children and teens feeling “useful”. So many kids these days selfishly pursue personal pleasure and worship at the feet of consumerism and commercialism. They’re unhappy and anxious because they’re doing nothing of real value.
I believe (and this could be the ramblings of a naïve mother of pre-teens who knows nothing) that young people who have purpose and responsibility in their lives are much happier and productive. When they have chores and work to do and know that they are responsible to serve and protect their younger siblings, they have purpose. Their life has meaning and they learn early on that the pursuit of personal entertainment is the least important thing in life. Living and working in a successful and thriving family; knowing they are necessary and irreplaceable, is paramount to their personal success and happiness.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that the “restless and rebellious teen years” can be eliminated altogether by hard work and service. If kids are busy “slaving away” contributing to the family, caring for and teaching their younger siblings, they have no time to be idle, lusty and naughty.
My kids roll their eyes because one of my favorite “Momisms” is continuously reminding them that “Everyone works here and nobody loafs. Even the goats and the babies work”. Life isn’t easy and it isn’t free. Everyone has a job to do and everything needs to have its purpose. Helping everything and everyone find its purpose in my home is one of my most important missions.
Although I failed my little vacation bathroom candle holder and he never found his purpose, he will go to the garage sale table and maybe serve someone, someday by holding a real, actual candle. But hopefully not at a hoarder’s house. Yikes.