Year of Less | Minimizing Music

When I began my year of less, I knew that I wanted to start with one of the most emotional processes first…my music collection.

On January 1st, I carried box after box after box up to my dining room, which has become “Less Central.” I had no idea where to even begin. I knew that I had a lot of music to get rid of, so I gave myself the entire month of January to get through it all.

It wasn’t long enough.

The project dragged on until February 15th, but there was no way that I was stopping until the project was complete. This was a once in a lifetime project and leaving it unfinished was not an option.

It was emotional. Very emotional.

In college, I did an internship at a radio station in Chicago which launched my career in the music business. My career in the music industry lasted for a big chunk of my life and it was amazing. Letting go of my cd’s felt like letting go of some of the best years of my life. Every cd that I picked up had a story behind it. Every single one. The entire six week process was an emotional rollercoaster for me. Some music reminded me of high school. Some reminded me of friends that have since passed away. Most reminded me of the remarkable life I once lived. It’s a life that is behind me now and one that I don’t want to go back to, but keeping these cd’s has provided me with a security blanket. These boxes are the umbilical cord to my past.

It was time to cut the cord so that I could grow into the person I’m going to be next.

Sort

The first thing I did was open a box and sort everything into two piles:

I love it

I don’t love it

The “I don’t love it” piles were immediately put into boxes for donation. Easy.

The “I love it” piles were much, much, much larger and the process for these was going to take a while.

Check Spotify

First, I downloaded the CD Scanner for Spotify app. I then proceeded to scan every cd in the “I love it” pile to see which ones were available on Spotify. If they were available, I added them to a playlist called “My CD Collection” and put them in the donation boxes.

Make Tough Decisions

I now had a couple boxes left that were unavailable on Spotify. I sorted these into two piles again:

I love it and I’m keeping it

I love it, but I’m letting it go

This was the hardest part. I loved this music, but I didn’t want to carry it around anymore. I don’t have a cd player in my house, so the only place I could listen to them is in my car. At this point, I kept only my absolute favorites…the rest went into the donate box.

Why Donate? Why Not Sell?

Once the process was complete, I had 1220 cd’s, all boxed up and ready to go.

But where were they going?

My first thought was to sell them. There are several options for selling, but I couldn’t get past the amount of work involved in that process. I had just spent six weeks sorting through them all, did I really want to carry this albatross for weeks (or months) longer?

No. They needed to go now.

I reached out to a local book fair who was happy to take all of them. They will sell them, with profits going toward local literacy programs. For those who are counting, that is a win-win-win.

I get rid of my cd’s. Win.

The public gets access to music they love at a low price. Win.

My community gets access to literacy programs. Win.

That helps ease my emotional pain a bit.

Now What?

Now that this process is behind me, I’m happy to share that it was the right decision. I had friends tell me that they “don’t support this decision” or that “I should keep them just in case.” I proceeded anyway.

As I was nearing the end of my project, I came across the right words at the right time:

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu

It was time for me to let go so that I could move forward into the next chapter of my life. I want music to be the soundtrack to my life, not my life itself. I love music, not cd’s.

Yes, the cd’s are gone, but music is a constant in my life and I’ll be listening to a lot of it as I begin my February project of eliminating paper.

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