I was looking at my keychain yesterday and thinking that it doesn’t look too bad any more. There was a time when I had so many keys on it, I felt overwhelmed every time I grabbed them to leave the house. I thought about why that was and I realized that every key on my keychain represents a commitment of some sort. Each lock rests in a structure or item that requires safeguarding or upkeep of one kind or another.
My residence requires money to pay a monthly mortgage. It also requires a little maintenance and a lot of cleaning. Just to get into my condo, I also need either an electronic fob or a stair key. These things have been given to me by my homeowner’s association, which requires a different monthly fee. My car needs to be gassed up every couple of months and serviced a few times a year, and I have to keep it registered and insured. My mailbox has to be checked every few days, and something must be done with the various envelopes that arrive in it. My bicycle lock is used occasionally to safeguard my bicycle when I have to leave it unattended. I use the key to my mom’s house when I am there but no one else is. That’s the extent of the keys I now own, and that feels very good.
The other day I handed over a set of keys to my Lowertown office. It was the studio space where I finished writing my first book and where Laura and I had several very successful art shows. I had some degree of emotional attachment to the place, but the time had come to let it go, so I was okay with giving it up. Walking back home after handing the keys over to the new tenant (another writer, as fate would have it), I felt the kind of lightness I always feel whenever I downsize my life just a little bit more. It reinforced my belief that the less I am connected to physical things, the happier I am, and it sparked the idea for this post.
I’ve written before that I am, in no way, a minimalist, but by downsizing my life just a little here and there when I’ve been able to, I find that I am in a vastly different place now – physically, emotionally and spiritually – than I was ten years ago. I encourage you to do the same. A good place to start is by gathering up every key you can find, laying them all out and asking yourself what each one is for. Are you safeguarding or maintaining things that no longer add value in the same way they once did? If so, maybe it’s time to downsize a little.