When you were growing up, do you remember if you had a favorite item of clothing? One that you tried to wear day in day out, regardless if it was scuffed, dirty or hanging together by it's threads?
For me, that item was a hoody from a long lost Irish brand named Hobo. There was just something different about it's fit and color, the way it hung but more importantly, the way it made me feel.
Safe, secure and comfortable.
Like an extra layer of skin on top of my own, when I wore that hooded sweatshirt my confidence boosted, my inner voice grew taller and my shoulders and stance relaxed into the day ahead.
I loved it dearly but like most things in life, eventually they must come to an end, and it did.
I wore that hoody every single day, even going so far as to regularly steal it from the dirty laundry basket before it was sent for another round of tumbling cleansiness as I couldn't bare the thought of having to put something else on instead.
I wore it so much that I eventually became known by it. My name wasn't Keith anymore, it was Hobo and when friends or passers by called out to me, I would react and respond to it's name and not my own. I loved it dearly but like most things in life, eventually they must come to an end, and it did.
Over time the cuffs began to fray, the padded structure holding the hood in place started to sag and the material surrounding the elbows thinned so much that my skin underneath shone through.
It was time to put my hoody out to pasture. It was time to say goodbye.
I watched it embark on it's final journey one fateful Autumn morning as I stepped into adolescence and the abundance that came with the title.
I changed from a minimalist to a maximalist
I was a teenager now and clothing trends were changing on a weekly basis. One minute we were strutting denim jackets, the next we were lounging around in baggy trousers, the ends of the legs dragging across the ground only serving to solidify the look.
Month after month, year after year I purchased and wore all manner of styles, my wardrobe swelling to unimaginable and unsustainable heights along the way.
That safe, secure and comfortable feeling I had experienced with my hooded sweatshirt was nowhere to be found.
I eventually owned so many clothes that I couldn't find a single item no matter how hard I tried to look. There were too many pieces, so many duplicates and an eye clashing array of mismatched colors all thrown, bundled, balled up and tossed into my closet that I risked losing all sense of direction each time I attempted to enter it.
Although their shelf lives were abrupt and their public spotlight was bright and excessively short, in private they lingered, a stark reminder of a fleeting moment, one that contained a shiny outer coating but lacked a core of any substance and longevity.
That safe, secure and comfortable feeling I had experienced with my hooded sweatshirt was nowhere to be found. That one single name I used to be known by had been replaced with a hundred different variants, each one completely different from the next, each one conveying an inconsistent version of who I was beneath it all.
The simplicity of the hooded sweatshirt was gone, chaos and contradiction had taken it's place.
Finding simplicity through a minimalist wardrobe
I grew out of my teens and started the process of gathering the slabs of stone that would eventually settle beneath my feet. Each one slotted perfectly to the next, each one representing the foundational building blocks that would eventually construct a pathway to a simple and focused life.
Although I was not completely free of my abundant days, I was beginning to understand that less items, less clutter and more focus would successfully guide me to a happier state of being.
Looking at the layers of clothing that had stacked up over the previous decade, I knew that dissecting and dismantling that area of my life would be the perfect starting block to launch me in the right direction.
And so I began to pull, swipe, topple and cull my garments, tossing each one into the depths of an ominous black plastic trash bag as I discarded the fat in search of lean, tender meat that I could sense lay underneath.
The more I discarded, the lighter I began to feel as the weight of a heavy cloud slowly dissipated from my closet and up out of my soul.
My mind was beginning to clear. I was starting to find my focus.
By the end of the afternoon my closet was completely bare, save for a few simple black tshirts that draped quietly from their sturdy wooden dress hangers.
The sturdiness of the hangers paired flawlessly with the conservative plainness of the black tshirts, each one framed elegantly by the pure and calming fresh white paint that radiated from the back of the closet which was now unshackled of it's shadowy darkness.
I took a step back, surveyed my day's labor and was instantly transported to my childhood, the safe, secure and comfortable feeling wrapping me once more like an extra layer of skin.
I could feel my confidence begin to boost, my inner voice start to grow and I knew in that moment that this simple act of dissection was one that would reverberate and echo across the span of the next two decades, it's pulsating tremor eventually leading to a booming crescendo where I would eventually find peace.