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In Moving, as Life, a Matter of Balance – Life as an Extreme Sport
Life as an Extreme Sport

In Moving, as Life, a Matter of Balance

help me find a reason…

I stand in the middle of the bedroom and count boxes. They’re all clearly labeled; I’ve made a point of labeling all sides so that no matter how a box is grabbed, it will be easy to see where to place it on the other side of this move. Box: Bedroom: TShirts + Tops (+sweaters). Box: Bedroom: Tanks, Tees, + Business. Box: Bedroom: Long + Business Skirts.

It goes on. There are, as a matter of fact, eight boxes of clothing. There will probably be another after I do laundry, plus a small backpack of clothing for the day or two after moving, when I am too tired to unpack.

Help me find a reason
Before my judgment day
To make some big, big money
So’s I can run away

Is eight boxes of clothing too much? I don’t know. I know that some people in the simple living community would consider anything beyond a backpack of possessions (so, I’d have to ditch the cats, too) as too much, and not true to the spirit of simple living.

I know that on the other side of the equation are people like Michael S. Rosenwald of the Washington Post, hoarders with piles and some degree of awareness of the problem.

And then there’s me – the between. Are eight boxes of clothes too much? If you want to pick up and move on a moment’s notice, probably (I’m doing this in less than a week of packing, but that’s going to be too long for people who live out of a backpack). But it’s also a concession to reality. Taking a closer look at the boxes, I see that they begin to break down into neat categories: business formal, business casual, my own casual (still rather unabashedly goth). My living choice – of wearing clothing that I am comfortable with when I am not in a professional environment, that captures what I see as the external manifestations of my own quirky personality – means that I, by necessity, have to have more clothing than if I were happy to wear business casual clothing all the time. I haven’t actually been in an environment where I’ve had to wear business clothing of any type for two-odd years; however, I have always been aware of the fact that I will move back into that world, and in fact this upcoming move is another step back into that environment. Business clothing of any type is expensive, and I couldn’t justify getting rid of clothing that I genuinely liked, knowing that if I did it would just need to be replaced in a relatively short period of time. That falls too much on the side of conspicuous consumption – getting rid of something that is fine just because you don’t need it now and can replace it later.

But there’s certainly a balance between acknowledging the reality of a life in transition (as I have been these last few years) and verging over into hoarding every small thing. Will I really darn those socks with the hole in the toe? Is that top really going to be bleached back to white? Will I use that skirt the moths got to for a pattern, ever?

In a room full of mirrors
I want to do that again
Good god what’s the reason
For this killing game
I only want everything

So far, the balance seems to be held between extremes, for which I’m grateful. I’m sure that those who advocate a stark minimalist lifestyle (mistaking it for a simple lifestyle, when in fact they are not at all the same thing) find my life one of excess. I’m sure that most people, happily in the middle with me, trying to balance their consumption with their ideals, their desire to live simply with the necessity of managing difficult public faces, merely and simply relate. And I’m sure that those who have drifted away from the balance into hoarding, and are aware of it, look at my life with some grateful envy – I have not become consumed by my possessions.

Then I look at the stacks of bankers boxes full of books neatly lined up against my living room wall – 15 or so, the last time I counted – and sigh, and the mental debate begins again.

Help me get that again
Hey hey hey
Before my judgment day