Many years ago, I found myself in the driver’s seat of a little car like a Fiat or an older tiny Ford Escort hatchback. It was packed to the brim, incredibly cluttered and disorganized. Boxes, papers, toys, stuffed animals, and other unidentifiable items filled the car to the rooftop. I was driving the car. Confused about what I was doing driving a packed car, it dawned on me that this mess and this vehicle belonged to me. I couldn’t out any of the windows because they were blocked by all of the stuff. The car swerved and swayed as I attempted to get a handle on it. I felt like I was driving one of those cartoon trucks, think 101 Dalmatians the cartoon movie, all over the road. It was so difficult to concentrate on driving that I was undoubtedly headed for a crash.
Suddenly, I remembered there was a baby in the backseat. Oh no, a baby was buried somewhere under all this stuff. She’s buried and can’t breathe and I probably killed her. Oh God, please, baby, don’t be dead. I pulled the car over and ran around to the back driver’s side door, swung it open, and started pulling things out of the car. Like a dog kicking up sand, my arms moved swiftly as I unburied the baby in the backseat. First I saw a pink sleeve, then a small hand, and finally, there, under all my stuff, sat an unmoving baby with her eyes closed. Oh no, I killed her. She suffocated under all this stuff. I unbuckled her out of the carrier and pulled her to me. She was warm, but still unresponsive. Come on, baby, come on. I’m here. I’m sorry. You’re okay, I told her. I held her in my arms and talked to her, cuddled her, and felt her move. She squirmed a little and stretched. She was alive. She was going to be okay.
I woke up in a hot flash and lay still in bed trying to decide if any of that actually happened. I almost killed a baby with boxes and other useless stuff in my car. No, I thought, it was only a dream. I didn’t have a baby and I didn’t have that car. But what did it mean? I supposed it symbolized something. It felt so real that it must be the heavens sending me a wake up call. Think. You minored in psychology, try to remember, what did dreams mean?
I guessed that the vehicle in the dream represented my life or my body and mind. It was a container holding a mix of precious cargo and crap. There was way too much stuff I was carrying around. I was scattered and my small life, possibly small mind, was cluttered with mostly useless things. Under all of the junk, I had an amazing, valuable, beautiful baby. The baby represented the best part of my life, joy, happiness, potential – all the things a baby embodies and it was buried. I almost smothered it with the other useless junk in my life or mind.
After thinking through this, it wasn’t like I hopped out of bed that morning and got right down to cleaning out my crap. In fact, I did almost nothing. Not out of spite or disbelief but because I doubted myself and people have weird dreams all the time. I had a lot of work to do and bills to pay and I’m sure my subconscious hadn’t taken any of that into consideration. In fact, I wasn’t really sure exactly what the dream was telling me. And in a couple of days, I had forgotten all about it. Never said I was a quick study.
Eventually, I connected the dream back to my life, and it reinforced my thinking and actions when I had already started the process of decluttering. It wasn’t until I had had the mind shift and discovered what I didn’t know then but now has the name, minimalism, that I could point back to that dream and say, there, that’s when deep down I knew even though at the time it wasn’t in my waking consciousness, something needed to change.
Today I’ve only just started figuring out what minimalism means in my own life, but it feels a lot like what my grandmother told me many years ago when I was a just a teenager. She said, “Take only what you love from your life and leave everything else behind. Make yourself a beautiful life.”
It was the best advice I’ve ever received.