I have always been a tinkerer. I used to disassemble my alarm clock to see what made it tick (sorry, had to be said). The sight of springs and dials and screws scattered about my floor was sheer delight for my school-age eyes. Soon I turned to bigger things, then eventually cars and motorcycles. The passion of my tinkering always revolved around tools I had accumulated. At first they were tools that were handed down from my father. Once I was employed as an automotive technician the habit grew to typical-for-me obsession and compulsive buying.
I was always told by the men mentoring me in the business to make sure and have the right tools. Always have plenty of extra ones, “just in case”, and never sell them no matter how desperate you were. You take care of your tools, and they will take care of you.
Over the course of decades my collection grew to incredible proportions. Auto tools, yard tools, bicycle tools, electronic tools, hobby tools. If I needed it only once, I still bought it and hung on to it. I had tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of tools, a collection for the ages.
I took the jump and looked at my tools with more minimalist eyes. To my newfound viewpoint, my tools were taking up space and energy. If one of the tools needed maintenance, I had to buy a tool that would service it. My tools were influencing where I could live; I needed a garage to keep my tools safe and sound. My tools owned and used me. It started to seem that I was slightly mad to think I would ever need all these tools. There were unopened tools that had been purchased in the mid-eighties. There were specialty car tools that were only good for products that were no longer available. I found lawn tools that had never been used. Seventy two screwdrivers took up valuable space. I decided to do what I should have years ago. I sold all the” just in case” tools. I got rid of any tool that I knew would never be used again. I found people that were willing to take some of my hardware off my hands. It was the classic “win-win” scenario; I got rid of clutter and burden and my friends got great deals on well taken care of tools. I even made some folding money in the process.
I cannot emphasize how huge this was for me. At one point I was identified by my tools. I was that guy in the neighborhood that always had the right tool for the job. A real life “Tim the Toolman Taylor” that could actually build or fix things.
If I can downsize my tools, I can do anything.
If you are worried about minimalizing, and have fear that something you get rid of will be missed, try not to be. As I have read blogs from The Minimalists or Colin Wright or Adam Baker I have wondered how they fared in getting rid of stuff. Was it painful or full of regret? Did it cause more stress? How could I get rid of those things that seemed to matter? I’m sure it seems so easy when you’re a twenty- something without half a century of accumulation, but I have a history with this stuff older than most of these minimalist bloggers. One thing I can tell you, however, is that with each successive step, it has become easier and given me more freedoms. Each day I feel those freedoms becoming greater and greater. Each day my goals become more within reach. Each day looks brighter. With each item I no longer possess, the freedom of lightness becomes greater. Am I telling you to get rid of all your “stuff” and renounce your possessions? Hardly. What I want to tell you is figure out what is essential and eliminate the remainder.
Don’t wait another day. That clutter in your life that you think you can’t get rid of will be happy to leave. Unload your burden, remove the weight from your spirit and let it fly. Freedom awaits you.