This shift, coupled with a change in jobs last year, has had huge practical implications. I have recently divested myself of most of my art books and all but a few traditional art materials. I no longer need the big studio we designed into the new house 8 years ago to accommodate the 3 x 2.4 sq meter paintings I was doing for my PhD. I don't need crates of drawing props or other education materials either. Over the last few weeks I have removed piles and piles of stuff - to the auction, local OP Shops and the Tip Shop. I've emptied out filing cabinets and got rid of them too. And I've finally accepted the reality that I won't be pursuing music so I've taken my beautiful Washburn bass and saxophone to the auction. I am reduced to a bed, a desk, computer, a box of tools, some books I just couldn't let go of, enough clothes, a few paints and brushes and a ridiculously large pile of art journals.
This downsizing process has also been driven by a planned physical move to a few acres with a smaller house (if we are able to sell our current one). The house we have is already small, but the next will be even smaller. I have been saying for years that I want the smallest practical house with the biggest bit of land around it I can afford. Houses just fill up with stuff and need constant cleaning. I want to be able to step through my front door and straight into the veggie garden, and most of all - get some peace and privacy from neighbours and the detritus of daily life.
My partner has been going through a similar process and we have been talking a lot lately about 'identity' - how it shifts as you reach certain age milestones in your life and how priorities change. We've come to the conclusion that this is the right thing to do because although neither of us is ready to leave the planet, sorting out our stuff is probably a gift to anyone we leave behind. I recall a family gathering during which we doled out my father's belongings. They fit into a small garage and I remember thinking - this is the sum of a life, and nobody really wants this stuff. I don't want people standing around thinking that about me. It may not be possible, but when I leave I don't want to leave a trace - just sink into the abyss.
In the meantime I feel lighter and hopeful. After an initial feeling of 'I don't know if I have the energy to build again', I am looking forward to the next phase of my life.
image: One of my WIP digital drawings entitled 'Miss America'.