5 Things I Learned When Reducing My Collection of 1000 Postcards
Learning to simplify requires courage and tenacity. It is hard. It is emotional and often appears to run counter to living successfully in the consumer world that surrounds us. We are trained to be consumers from the age of 2. It is expected and a kind of contract we feel that we must support. We are expected to embrace and encourage the capitalist consumption machine. And to be honest I love the abundance of fun and frivolous things that beg me to be taken home! For me however, it is simply about not overdoing it.
Postcards have always been something I’ve collected. I have huge passion for travel and instead of brining home heavy and cumbersome collectibles I was in the habit of just tucking a few postcards in my bag. It made me feel happy. However, over the years, those one or two postcards turned into a box that I could hardly lift.
Start with the Hardest Category to Simplify
So I decided a great place to start with my new website and Facebook Group Learn to Simplify would be to learn how to simplify my postcard collection. In the great scheme of things reducing a collection of postcards might seem insignificant. But I have been carrying this box around for years and have three times as many postcards than I need to document my trips. My goal? To reduce my postcard collection to ONE postcard from every city, town or country. Just one.
Postcards Were More Than Pieces of Paper to Me
My cards represented 50 years of travel, experience and memories but I started with a glass of wine in my hand a determined and non-emotional attitude.
That of course all dissolved as I started to sort the cards. Tears ran down my face as I remember the places and people and experiences. The people, the kisses, the conversations, museums, historical monuments, architecture, culture! But I charged ahead.
Here is where I started – close to 1000 postcards neatly wrapped in little bundles. The first job was to sort them and discard every duplicate. I had no idea that I had close to 10 postcards from Paris and 20 from Edinburgh. Places with family and friends.
In the pile I found some renegades. These were postcards from places I’d never been but found in wonderful places or cards that were purchased in museums. I had at least 10 Modigliani postcards. Those I decided to keep.
Work Fast, Calmly and Be a Little Ruthless
The pile of duplicates got bigger and bigger and finally surpassed the number I was going to keep. My rules were to first all work fast, turn the postcards over as discarded them and don’t stay emotionally connected to the person I might have been with, the beauty of the memories or the spectacular pleasure of the visit. I did not need 4 cards of Nice to remind me how much I loved it. I didn’t need 14 angles of the Taj Mahal to bring back the magic. Only when the postcards were in a garbage bag and tied up to dispose of did I allow myself some tears.
There is Always More to Learn than Just Simplification
What did I learn? First, how incredibly fortunate I have been in my life to have had the freedom to make the choices that allowed me to travel. I really have been to some spectacular places! I also learned that this world is gorgeous beyond belief and that in a million years I could never repeat or replace the memories I carry with me in my 3 small bundles of cards.
Finally, I learned to be grateful for my life, for people behind the cards, places embedded forever in my heart and mind. I know it is a cliché, but I DID feel lighter. I felt as though I had pulled the random energy of each of the cards and gave them a space. I was honouring their unique individuality and not stuffing them in a box I would never open again. Oh yes, if i had spent $1 on each card, I’d have saved enough for another trip!
I now I have 3 beautiful little bundles and of course plan to buy more postcards – but just one card now in every place. Just one.
It was not a negative experience at all. Yes, I felt a little sad as I placed the bag in the garbage collection point but in true Marie Kondo style I said, “Thank you, you’ve brought me so much joy.” As I have said, downsizing and simplification is not about saying no to things, it is about saying yes to life!
Have you got a postcard or other collection of precious things that you want to reduce? How did you (or are you) going to address the downsizing exercise.