September 10, 2015

Aristotle is credited with postulating that nature abhors a vacuum, the idea that whenever there is an empty space, matter will rush to fill it in. Although he lived in the 4th century BC and since then later philosophers and scientists have debated his idea passionately, the Greek philosopher had a pretty good sense of how humans live their lives and occupy space, especially in the world today. The term Horror vacui can be applied to the way we build our cities, occupy our homes and use our containers.

As modern-day consumers in capitalist cultures, we are encouraged to want larger homes and larger cars and fill them all with as many possessions as possible. I have noticed over years of visiting the homes of family, friends, and art collectors, that the bigger a person’s home is, the more stuff they will acquire to fill it. (Of course, there are many people who can pack a lot into a small house too!) Very rarely have I visited a home and been told, “Oh, we just decided to leave those rooms empty,” or, “I thought we’d leave those walls blank because we enjoy empty space.” The general rule seems to be to fill up whatever space you have. That’s certainly what we have done in our home and it’s what I am battling with via this Giveaway project. I doubt that any of our walls will be empty at the end of the year (I love art too much for that to be possible!), but the idea of having an empty drawer somewhere in the house is quite thrilling!

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I’ve noticed the same problem with any bags or containers. When I travel, it’s definitely the case with suitcases. The larger the case, the more stuff I will pack in and lug around the world. So, now I only have a small, carry-on size suitcase. It will limit how much I take and how much I acquire on my trips. And in my everyday life, the size of my purse (or handbag) dictates how much junk I will carry around with me. Whatever the size of the bag, I will fill it. A couple of years back, I decided that I wanted to be a bit trendier and looked at the bags my stylish friends carried on their shoulders. They were all really big. I bought myself two big bags – an olive suede hobo bag and a red faux leather shoulder bag – and went out into the world feeling a bit cooler-looking. But after a while the strap on the suede back broke from all the weight in the bag. And, worse still, I was having a lot of pain behind my right shoulder blade – just like when my son Theo was small and I carried a mommy bag around with me everywhere. Young children always need extra snacks, bandaids, emergency toys, tissues and maybe even extra socks and a book. But now that Theo is nearly 10, I don’t need to go through such pain. I went online and bought myself a little brown suede bag to replace the olive one and just found a small red bag to replace my large one. Today, I gave away the large red one to Rita (see February 5), the lovely woman who cleans our house once a month. Because she has to wipe and dust and clean around all of our stuff, it will likely be Rita more than anyone else who will notice at the end of this year whether or not this project has been a success!

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