By the time we left our life in the United States almost a year ago, we had five carry-on bags worth of belongings. Early in our journey, I wrote quite a bit about the physical process of simplifying our life full of “stuff” and the freedom we felt as a result of that process.
Since we left, we have even less than we started with and are fascinated every day by the quality of the life we lead with so little.
As is often the case, just when I feel like I am getting proficient in one thing, my perspective shifts and I realize how much I still have to learn. As we started to redesign Livology, I noticed the virtual clutter I had amassed over the last year. Because we are living and working without a home base, the introduction of clouds and on-line storage and multiple desktops on one device became an important part of our livelihood over the past year.
When we sat down to put it all together differently, I felt the same way I used to feel walking into our garage. I wanted to run out and buy storage bins and a label maker and yell at everyone to pick up after themselves. I felt anxious and overwhelmed and I just wanted to shut the door and pretend the clutter didn’t exist.
I was not aware of the similar emotions and impact virtual clutter would have on our life. I had rules for physical clutter, mantras I uttered with diligence, such as: Divide piles into trash, donate, or treasure. Make room for the new by getting rid of something. SYSTEMS PEOPLE, SYSTEMS!
How did I end up here, staring at a desktop full of unlabeled photos, with virtual sticky notes everywhere, and not a file in sight? After taking a deep breath, I realized I knew what to do. Clutter is clutter and it is time to clean up my virtual act. The same mantras applied.
I realized, once again, the most important question to ask with anything that I have chosen to bring into my space, virtual or otherwise, is in what ways does it serve me?
When something no longer adds value, it is taking up valuable space. Even if I can send it into a cloud, it will hang over me.
The accomplishment of paring our life down to just what would fit into five bags, is nothing compared to the humble knowledge of Aristotle’s statement, “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”