The wall that's worth a thousand words
I took down some art from my bedroom walls recently. “IKEA art isn’t real art,” I reasoned. (“That’s true,” my painter of a roommate chimed in.) The sudden purge was spurred on by a lovely book I’m reading, The Grace of Enough: Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture. It speaks of living with intention, practicing hospitality, cultivating beauty, fostering a life-giving home…things I love, things I aspire to. I’ve been scanning my newly simplified walls since my purge, wondering if there’s more needless stuff I can rid myself of.
But then I come to the crowning jewel: my gallery wall. Now, it’s certainly not worthy of gracing an exhibit in a sophisticated museum, and I’m sure there are plenty of principles of design and curating I am wholly ignorant of, and there are always at least a few frames that are off-kilter just enough to rob the arrangement of perfection, but to me? It is just as it should be. The beauty of it is this: each piece means something to me. Each has a story, a place in my heart. There are pictures of people I dearly love, treasures from life-changing trips abroad, holy images that point me heavenward. I got Millet’s L'Angélus at the Louvre when visiting a friend in Paris and a print of St. Mary’s Basilica when I was in Krakow for World Youth Day. There’s a photo of that afternoon I spent hiking the Yorkshire Dales with dear friends during my time studying abroad in England, my graduation day with my beloved roommates on the corner of Forbes and Bellefield, a happy Christmas evening with my sister and cousins. The little plate on the end belonged to my grandparents, and the gorgeous sunset painting was lovingly made by my grandmother. I’ve even framed a couple of greeting cards, ones that hide heartfelt messages inside. Just a brief glance to this meaningful wall lifts my spirits.
Can I say this about all my possessions? The clothes in the closet I rarely wear, the wide-brimmed hat I bought on a whim, the drawers full of junk I can’t bring myself to sort through? Certainly not. In fact, there are times I feel weighed down by the things I own. Yet somehow, there’s still a longing for more. As if, well, this will be the purchase that buys my happiness. That will bring true satisfaction, the newness I crave, the completion I seek.
I think about the marked difference of those items on my favorite wall. I acquired them with great intention, with care, with the knowledge that they’d carry a certain weight because they elevate my thoughts—to people I love, to travels that have transformed me, to the beauty of creation, to my Creator Himself. I arranged the items, from purchases to gifts to results of street corner scavenging (okay, just through a box marked “free”), to beautify my home, to make it a haven, to be a small representation of myself, my loves, the things that bring me life and joy.
And now that I’ve tasted the freedom that comes from ridding myself of needless stuff, those items that don’t bring me life and joy or beautify my home or elevate my spirits, I may very well continue the trend. I may brave the dark depths of my dust-ridden closet or the corners of long-unopened drawers. What’s more, I’ve noticed my purchasing habits have begun to shift. I’m training myself to avoid that urge of buying something just because, and I’m starting to recognize those minor conveniences or comforts that, just maybe, I could go without. I’m trying to prioritize quality, beauty, simplicity.
It’s not a change that’ll happen overnight. I’m sure I’ve still got a long way to go. But here I am, professing my joy, encouraging you to seek the same. And while I’ll forget, I know, when scrolling mindlessly or wandering aisles or eyeing a thing I just can’t pass up, I’ve always got a wall to remind me.