Ikea. Simple, sleek, and elegant Scandinavian design. Sometimes affordable, sometimes not, yet always somehow feels desirable. But ..
Since moving into my own place with the few possessions I needed to reboot my life, I have found that I am in a place to actively choose what I want in my home. And what I don’t. There are still some outstanding items I would like to get bought. Rugs and curtains mainly. A bookshelf.
My go to place is normally Ikea. Partly because they offer items which I like at a price I can afford, partly because of the hot-dogs. I went there last week to get a cross-brace for a shelving unit which I had forgotten when buying bits for a shelving system.
Now, I don’t think anything had dramatically changed since I was there last, not in the shop, but .. maybe in me? For a while, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was which seemed different. In past times when I’ve walked around Ikea, it was in somekind of pseudo-trancendant zen bliss, or something .. dunno .. but this time .. where once I saw cosy little pretend homes, snug bedrooms, inspiring home-office areas – now I saw cramped claustrophic boxes, wall carrying shelves loaded with nondescript plastic boxes. What used to be intruiging “open me” draws, were now venus-fly traps for my soul. If there had been previously been some chilled out soundtrack to my Ikea trips playing in a major key, the melody was now slightly dischordant and in a minor key.
I saw Ikea in a different light now, and it’s facade seemed to have slipped a little. Sure, it was still stylish and simple, but at the same time, I sense could hooks .. maybe something akin to the drug-pusher’s, “first free sample”. The promise of a clever storage solution, a clean living space covered in white formica and plastic, seemed to be now nothing more than a trap to get us to buy Stuff to Organise the Stuff We Already Have. We just have too much shit .. And the Stuff We Already Have was bought because the TV said we needed it, our friend has one, and our home isn’t complete without it. Our life isn’t complete without it.
We aren’t complete with out it.
We aren’t complete.
Companies like Ikea, maybe Apple? try somehow to convince us that by buying into them we also get a stylish, minimalistic, and low-maintance life style. There seems to be a finely crafted wool being pulled over our eyes. We are bombarded with images enticing us to buy stuff we don’t need, and then more images for us to buy stuff to hide the stuff we just bought. A complex consumeristic ecosystem. In reality the Buying Of Stuff, and the Storing Of Stuff are opposite sides of the coin of consumerism. No matter which side of the coin we look at, I don’t believe that either can give us the tidier homes, peaceful hearts, or happiness which the advertisements promise.
Maybe part of the solution is to somehow reject that coin altogether.
I’ve started following this blog: http://www.becomingminimalist.com. On the face of it, Joshua Becker seems to write about tips for de-cluttering home, but he has a deeper goal. The minimalism which Joshua talks about, is not one of living in a white box with just a tea spoon and a coffee cup, but rather clearing away the extraneous chaff which consumerism foists onto us.
Even just getting rid of the clutter is not the point, although this is key part of the journey. A cosy home with treasured possesions is one thing, but clutter and crap in every corner is another. The first few steps of the journey might well be tossing the empty batteries, odd-socks, and half-working ballpoint pens, but the real journey happens deep inside us.
We aren’t complete.
So we buy stuff to try and make us complete.
What if we were complete? What if .. what if we took a moment to re-imagine ourselves. What if we took time in comfy chair with warm drink, to day dream the sort of life we want. Joshua puts it so much more eloquently than me. It’s something along the lines of whilst we own stuff, extraneous stuff owns us. It somehow saps our energy.
For instance, I had managed to hamster away any number of 3m network cables., “In case I need them.”. Am I really going to have a cross-connection closet at some point which will necessitate hooking up a bunch of network sockets? So, out they go. Less stuff to dig through when I am looking for that spare main cable which I am keeping … “just in case” …. ah … so the extra power cables can go too. The books which I love and read from time to time, they can stay, but the “B” movies with no plots which I never want to see again, why are they still in the drawer?
Things which longer have value to me – I have no purpose or love for them, why do I hold onto them? If they are broken, I should throw them out. If they are not broken I should pass them forwards to friends and family who might find purpose or love for them.
The less I own, the less I have to worry ( <- key word! ) about maintaining them or storing them. The less I buy, the more I have to invest in doing things which could create good experiences and memories with friends and family.
When I look back, all the majority of happy memories are focussed on experiences rather than objects. For example, times when as I child, we got caught caught in a rain storm in Wales – I can remembmer seeing the wall of rain coming at us down a dry street. Mother-duck staring down a goat which had got loose and was trying to get at our food on a camping trip. Acutally, the only things I think I still have now in my flat from my youth are my electric guitar, guitar amp, hi-fi amp, loud speakers, some old handicraft projects, and family heirlooms. These are objects which have both sentimental meanings for me, and/or purpose.
Even the objects which mean so much to me will themselves become nothing more than fond memories one day.
I guess what I am learning at this part of my jourey is that I want to invest more in experiences and memories rather than buying stuff. Buying or owning stuff isn’t going to ever fix or heal the broken bits of me – but time with those close to me will.