A Sentimental Minimalist


Often, people presume that minimalists aren’t sentimental…

That we can pass things on, or throw them away without a second thought. And there may be minimalists out there like that but I’m certainly not one of them. I am the kind of person that use to hold onto every book, I ever read because I worried I would hurt their feelings if I donated them. Walls of books took up space in my house, these once loved books, now sat gathering dust and untouched, yet I couldn’t let them go.

If that wasn’t hard enough, I then became the parent who kept everything their child had worn, drawn and held. Every outfit, every toy, everything had a memory and I gave it all meaning. The trouble with this, as I would later realise, was that these very things I had hoarded, these incredibly important things, were actually distracting me from the most important things in my life - which were obviously not things at all but my kids. And so when I discovered minimalism, it all made sense. I realised these things weren’t enriching my life and had to go.

But how could I get rid of these things that had once meant so much? The task seemed too big, too vast. Yet actually, when it came to it these things that I had deemed so important, actually became less important the more I looked at them. The books I kept but never read, the stained clothes, the thousands of photos that were just another variation, of the one I would keep. These items were taking up space and when faced with them all, became easier to let them go.

And so this continued. Every time I decluttered, I became less and less sentimental. I realised that mostly the memories of these things were already in my head, the tiny hats and the way the breeze fell, the moments forever engrained. But sometimes I had to listen to my sentimental heart, when I wanted something to stay and remembered that when everything is important, nothing is. Once I took to living like this, I could hear that voice telling me when something really mattered, louder than before and I guessed it meant something.

There was a ride on bike. A yellow bumblebee with wheels worn and handlebars perfectly sized for little hands. It was tiny, it folded neatly away and it meant everything to me. It is one of the few things, I couldn’t give away from my sons younger years. Because to me, it represented him. I can close my eyes and picture him on it, his red converse scraping the ground as he rode, his chubby legs, his soft cheeks, that big determined frown. He was a late walker and so went everywhere on that bike. We would go miles together, him and I, along the beach and through the town. And it is a resounding memory, such a part of me that I know I would never forget. It is strong enough to survive without the actual bike but for whatever reason, not yet known, I can’t let it go.

I tried, believe me I tried. It moved from the loft to the cupboard, the cupboard to the shed. I thought that by moving it quietly throughout the house, I could slowly move it on. Once in the shed, the next stop the charity shop but it didn’t go like that. Because every time I imagined someone else on the bike, a little bit of me broke and so for reasons I can’t quite explain, it stayed. We put a hook upon the shed wall, so that it would make me smile every time I look in. And every so often I get it out and see if it still sparks joy and it does, giddy with memories of days spent, oh it does.

And it isn’t a sadness, or a drop in the heart, like many of the things I once held onto because I couldn’t bare the thought of letting them go. It is a brightness, it is a lightness, it is sunshine. It is love and so it stays.

There are no hard rules when it comes to minimalism, it is completely individual and no amount of articles read, could make me pass this bike along. It is truly something that makes my heart sing, this yellow bumble bee bike, rolling down the hill, my little boy and me.

Getting rid of the unimportant made me realise the important, the things that mattered. The things I could let go of but didn’t want to, not just for the sake of minimalism. It makes me hold onto and keep what matters, memories of sunshine, memories of motherhood, memories of my little boy and I.