It’s funny the items we hold on to. In his book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff, Richard Carlson writes about making peace with imperfection. Richard offers many ways to do this that prove very helpful when acted upon. One example would be to see a thing as already broken. For instance, when you purchase a new car. That is the best that car is ever going to look, be, and feel. Your first ding, dent, or scratch is often tough to get over. It’s perfect.
Richard suggests picturing the thing in its end condition. Within 10, 20, or 30 years, it’s highly likely you’ll be in a new car. Heck, that thing might not last a week. There’s a great chance it’ll end up crushed and demolished. When we picture something in such a way, it makes it a little more tolerable when something bad happens to it.
This philosophy also helps us to take the emphasis off stuff. As a minimalist, I often reevaluate items I possess and see if I can do something else with them. As always, there are those “sentimental” items that I find it hard to part with. I’ll share an example that might help give further perspective.
Back in 2007, I worked for the Anaheim Ducks organization and we won the Stanley Cup. From that, I acquired a championship tee-shirt and hat, neither of which I’ve ever worn.
I was waiting for the (hypothetical) perfect time to wear them.
10 years later, and 0 wears, I decided it was time to consider parting with them or just wearing them. It was time to make room in my closet for something else. I know the memory still exists in me, I don’t need items to prove it.
So I decided to give the shirt away, and I knew the perfect person to give it to. I took the items out to make sure they were in good enough condition to give away and noticed something funny. My white tee-shirt discolored and the hat dirtied. How did these items, never worn, accumulate discoloration and dirt while in my closet? Surely there’s something wrong!
I waited all that time and held on to these “perfect” items to wear them at the “perfect” time, which never came. I decided to give them away and realized they are no longer perfect. I’m not the slightest upset either, which proves one more time that we must let go of perfection.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
Make peace with the imperfection in your life. You can. If it’s a thing, use it as it’s meant or get it to somebody who can. Life’s too short to worry about things that don’t matter in the end. And, in the end, it’s all small stuff.