Post-camino Frances Reflections – Week 12.

The day is very cloudy and grey. It reminds me a lot of winter, and the coming season. Yet we are just one day shy of autumn.  Where is my yellow sunshine?  It’s hard to see the rain but when you stare out of the window in an unfocussed way, you can see the rain falling away.  It’s the perfect weather for ….. decluttering!

I am *still* decluttering. “Still?”, I hear you say. “Still”.  I don’t spend everyday doing it, but when I’ve piled together enough stuff, that’s when I’m off to do the tip run. This is on top of the weekly plastics and paper recycling that I do. Hubs isn’t keen to do the tip run as I’ve told him it’s a small pile. But I want to get it out of the house as I find that it helps me with decluttering more stuff.  I am finding that when everything is there, I cannot see the wood for the trees.  Really.  What’s quite a small tip run turns out to be a full boot of it.  Clearly, I have a disconnect with reality.  Part of me feels quite proud. I am letting go of the things I don’t need – the things I don’t even know exist to weigh me down. I am becoming stronger is saying “no” to duplicates of things.

The queue to drive into tip is long. There are not many cars, but it seems I am not alone in my desire to move things along. People are busy emptying out hoards of stuff from their boot.  Boxes, metal bits, things that used to be pretty and decorative, old electrical goods going to electrical heaven, unwanted clothes.  In fact, the clothes bins are overflowing with bagged clothes spilled open.  It’s looking soggy and muddy in the rain.  I can’t imagine how they get recycled.  Who wants sodden clothes that’s been trodden?

People fill skip bin after skip bin of wood, scrap metal, household waste, paper based products.  Behind these bins, there are 2 mountains of waste.  I’ve never seen it so full.  I think it’s stuff that can’t be recycled – things like old suitcases, duvets, pillows – that sort of thing.  Probably clothes too.  I reckon the height of it might be 3 storeys high.  Other people’s waste – those who came on yesterday or the day before.

Why am I talking about waste, when this has been a site much more devoted to travel and new adventures?  Well, this is the result of my recent adventure that I am coming to terms with being compact with my living.  Minimalist, essential, experiential – call it what you will.  Walking the Camino de Santiago taught me that it is possible to exist with very little, and that what little you have becomes all the precious.  It is within the context of this that I am seeing things with new eyes. How do I translate the backpack to my home?  How do I live the modern life I want to live, yet leave a much smaller footprint on the environment than I have in the past?  How can I access the freedom of mind that just comes with less stuff?  How do I learn, in the real world, that what I have is enough and that I need nothing more?

Today, I looked at the men who were helping sort the residents sort the waste. I saw them with renewed eyes. They are helping me deal with the consequences of my consumption. As I looked at them with the backdrop of 2 mountains full of unwanted goods behind them, I think they have a task ahead of them. I think about all the other tips around the country, around the world. It makes me determined to be more responsible in my choices, to live in a much more conscious way.  I cannot change my consumption choices from the past, but I can choose to set new rules for how I consume goods.

I have not been of the school of thought of “a place for everything and everything in its place”. Often, I sorta had a place for stuff, and if I needed more space, I just moved some more stuff over, or pushed it to the back of the cupboard, till I forgot what stuff is there.  So I am embracing “a place for everything and everything in its place”.  I feel great discomfort with this idea.  It seems like such a simple thing to do, yet I know it will be challenging to apply it to my life.  I’m going to embrace it anyway.  Who knows where this thought might lead me?  Hopefully, to a more uncluttered house and mind.

When I finished my camino, I really did not know what the next steps would be.  I can so easily fall into old patterns.  For the moment, this idea of compact living grows strong. And I guess, if I was going to take away one thing from the camino, this is a good one.