Janet scrolled through the list of emails and cringed; they were so many and ten of them had an ‘Urgent’ sign. Before closing the tab, her eyes landed on the email from an international car dealership company. Emotions rushed through her and as soon as she saw the headline, she stood and shouted a hallelujah, but nobody was around to see her. Her car would be delivered in a week’s time.
It was the fourth car that year and one month after buying the third one. She never seemed to get enough of everything that she had; it was as if she was looking for a particular scent, fill a void in her life, or reignite an emotion that could only come from new things.
Her lifestyle entailed hanging out in malls, filling her home office with the latest phones and laptop, knocking everyone off with the latest perfumes, announcing her arrival with heeled shoes that were never worn twice, and filling her wardrobe with the latest designer items.
She didn’t know how many phones or laptops she owned because once lost in the pile of clothes that she often spread in her rooms, she ordered others.
A week after making the last payment for the new car, she drove to her bestfriend’s compound. Surprised to see a new shade of beaming Janet, Mark stood with his right hand covering the mouth. As soon as Janet pulled into the driveway, he walked towards her; confused and surprised.
“Don’t tell me this is your car,” he uttered hopefully.
“It is mine,” Janet beamed.
“What happened to the other one?” Mark pressed.
“Nothing. I just saw this lovely babe and decided to give her a home. So I bought it!” Janet answered, excitedly.
“You really should be mindful of your expenses. The future is fast coming. You have three painstakingly classic cars already. People go broke you know,” Mark warned.
“Me? Go broke?” Janet asked sarcastically. “You’ve got to be kidding. I earn more than some senators working part-time and the company has generated twice the amount generated last year in seven months.”
“Just warning you. You should consider minimizing this stuff. What if you misplace your key one day in the pile of clothes and are unable to save someone from a burning house, huh? Or something worse.” Janet shrugged and walked inside holding a bottle of wine.
In their six years of friendship, Mark had never understood why Janet lived in a three-bedrooms apartment and in the most expensive sides of town. “You overdo it,” he would occasionally say but none of the remarks were taken seriously.
After catching up and gossiping about love and life, Janet left for the bus station to pick her nieces, Jenny and Anna, who were to spend the holidays with her.
As expected, the ten-year-olds adjusted to their aunt’s habits of piling their clothes on the floor that Clare the housekeeper tried so hard to keep in the closet. Their three weeks stay entailed swimming, trying new foods, travelling to new places, and ended with shopping.
When they decided to spend time indoors, Jenny would be trying her aunt’s clothes and bags while Anna braided the dolls, until something took an unexpected turn. Jenny slipped her inhaler in one of the bags and continued fitting into the hundreds of shoes and clothes.
Two hours later, she lay on the floor holding onto her chest. Wheezing and out of breath, the familiar episodes of asthma attacks. When asked where she had placed the inhaler, she pointed to the pile of clothes.
Chaos broke into the house when Anna, Janet, Mark, Clare and Juliet the cook took to searching for the inhaler. But the pile of clothes and bags was too high and they didn’t know where to start looking.
Were it not for the security guard who rushed to the nearby chemist and bought another inhaler, Jenny could have had a chronic attack or bid the world goodbye at the tender age.
After the encounter, Mark sat across the room and met Janet’s teary eyes. He didn’t have to say, “I told you so” because he gathered she had seen the sense in the warnings. She paced back and forth wiping the tears with the back of her right hand and blowing her nose. She didn’t want to think about the narrow escape.
A month later, Janet’s life had taken a different turn; shopping when it was necessary and giving away the rest. A sense of freedom with all the free space she had. She did not struggle to adjust to the new lifestyle because she belonged to a special class of people who excelled once they put their mind to something, thanks to mind mastery lessons.
Some recommendable habits are:
• She bought things because they were valuable and not because she could- being a business owner of a busy supermarket, Janet had money flowing into her life and nothing seemed expensive. To stick to this, she evaluated her list before driving to the stores and by looking at the value rather than the capability of buying, she was able to reduce the junk.
• She took the lesson that she may not be lucky in future- the narrow escape of death was her turning point. She thought about what could have happened if the guard had not run downtown for the inhaler, or if the store was closed. She thought about Clare’s hard work of rearranging the clothes back into the closets.
• She introduced a new concept that physical space meant freedom of movement and not lack of money or denial of life’s goodies.
• She travelled to the beaches and forested areas instead of the malls. After several trips, she started enjoying the freshness that comes with being in a spacious place.
• She read and interacted with other minimalists and understood they were not lonely as was commonly thought.
• She bought substances that had double or triple roles to avoid stuffing
• She declared a clutter-free zone and advised others to do so.
Three months into the practice, she beamed without having to buy new cars or clothes and moved into a one-bedroom apartment. She learned and spread the word that being a minimalist isn’t being unappreciative or not embracing new things but living a clutter- free and stress free life.
If she did, so can you.