memory archive — day 100

Finally, I’ve reached day 100 of writing about the things I’ve been letting go off and what could be a better item to celebrate this appropriately than the disposal of a whole house?! No, I am not talking about the bird house in the picture, even though this one was, sadly, left behind (together with the tree it was fixed to and all the other beautiful greenery surrounding it – amongst them two Japanese Maples and four, massive banana plants). In fact, I am talking of our family home of the past four and a bit years. The house has vanished, disappeared within a week. I’d confidently say that getting rid of a whole house can easily be considered the pinnacle of minimalism, can’t it?Saying goodbye to your complete home is an extreme measure of minimalism that some people take and don’t regret. The few people I read/heard about doing this were in very different circumstances though. Having just gone through an existential life crisis or being still quite young, single or just out of uni, to name a few reasons.

Taking about minimalism going to the extreme reminds me of a conversation that happened a couple of weeks ago in my Japanese class. All students were asked to think of and describe a beloved item from their living room.

In my mind I prepared a sentence about my small, carefully selected collection of Japanese vases when the next person in line proclaimed in a matter of fact voice: ‚mono ga nai‘ — there aren‘t items. She called her way of life a ‚zen lifestyle‘ rather than using the term minimalism. One surprised student asked whether she owned at least a sofa which she confirmed. Everyone seemed a little bit reassured as there was a sigh of relief going through the classroom.

Each to their own. I know there are a lot of people who enjoy downsizing their belongings to an extreme and are contend with the outcome of living in a nearly bare space. It’s a personal choice, however, I feel there are approaches of living a minimalistic life that have gone too far. People following a trend rather than a making a sincere life choice. A minimalistic lifestyle for me is mainly about changing the way you consume. In every sense: less is more. I guess my approach would fall in the category ‘gentle minimalism’, if there was such a term.

But going back to our vanished house… It wasn’t an easy thing to see go. Friends, living in the neighbourhood, kept on sending pictures of the dismantling process, something I would have preferred to shield my eyes from. Each picture a reminder of how our history of four plus years in that house was slowly crunched to the ground, to disappear forever. I know that this might all sound a bit extreme and overly emotional. After all, we only moved homes, keeping most of the things that were inside the house. My feelings about the destruction of the house make perfect sense to me though. It is, again, an item which has a lot of memories attached to it. The fact that we had given the house a name when moving in didn’t help to feel a little less detached when it went.

Bye, bye Sausage House*

* The name Sausage House was born when we saw the horrendous relief-like sausage tiles in the kitchen that had been chosen for the house (built in 1990). The irony that a German family (who stereotypically would love sausages), had moved into the house was too good not to manifest with a name.