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In Search of the Superfluous

I love the word superfluous. It is an adjective and according to, it means being more than is sufficient or required; excessive. It also means unnecessary or needless. But wait, there is more! Obsolete, possessing or spending more than enough or necessary; extravagant.

When I grabbed onto this word, I began to use it in many ways. I walked around my home opening every cabinet, cupboard, drawer, closet and box. I evaluated the contents of every nook and cranny in my house in search of the superfluous. It was everywhere. How many office supplies do I need? How many duplicate kitchen items do I have? How many spare linens and towels do I require?

I began to place the superfluous in donation bags. As storage areas in my house became less cluttered, I could breath easier. Not only was I able see what I owned and find it with ease but I was supporting those in need with items they could use.

I also guarded my purchases to reduce or eliminate the superfluous purchase. Other than a few extra rolls of toilet paper and key items that I went through rapidly, I ceased stockpiling. I much preferred the clean look of shelves with open spaces than one crammed with objects.

The vigilance of superfluous became a mantra and a habit. It became part of my every day mentality. If I had a spare minute here or there, I would revisit a sector of my home to double-check any previous clearing. I always found pockets that I had neglected before. I have resistance to parts of my home for sentimental reasons or the “I might need it someday” syndrome. When I find one of those pockets that I want to clear but feel hesitant, I often set the things out on a table that I walk by frequently. I just let them sit there for a few days. I am giving that stuff a chance to make an appeal of real need to continue in my life.

After several days of the collection bugging me by clogging space on a vital area like my dining table, I find it easier take the next step of finding a new home for it. Occasionally I am not ready to let it go. So I place it in a holding area to revisit in a month or two. The holding area is still visible so those items keep nagging at me to make a decision or un-cover what underlying emotion, memory or story is holding me.

I sometimes have to process the loss of a dream. I may have to relinquish the hope I had for a goal. I may also need more time to find a new home for some object that helps me to feel better. If I choose a place or a person who might cherish the thing or things, it eases my mind a bit. I may want to photograph an item to remember it or show it to someone else. Acceptance that an era of my life is over, a relationship dissolved, or to forgive someone or myself may require time and a willingness to look deeper within my heart.

At first glance, the search and removal of the superfluous seemed like a house keeping or organizing task. In reality, it led me to deep inner work and reflection. And although it was a difficult process at times, I am glad I take time and energy to evaluate my stuff and my motives for having it. I am responsible for what I have gathered in my life and what to do about it. And in a way, it never ends but it does get easier. At least that has been my experience thus far.

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