Like many people, I’ve spent the majority of my life collecting things. While this process was never intentional, the more time passed, the more “stuff” I accumulated. Clothing, candles, purses, lotions, makeup…you name it, I’ve got it.
Recently, I experienced what it was to live without 90% percent of my possessions. After living in Tennessee for the past three years, my time in the southern state came to a close. I packed up the majority of my possessions and sent them on to be stored in Ohio, where I’m originally from. I intended to follow behind just a few days after, but ended up extending my stay for two weeks. (Granted, I have spent more than two weeks living out of a bag before, but sleeping in my nearly empty bedroom felt different.) My extra time in Tennessee was spent crashing on my roommate’s air mattress near Chattanooga and couch surfing in Nashville. Although I probably only wear half of my wardrobe as it is – another reason to sell/donate clothing! – it was rather foreign to have only the random items that had been left behind. My drawers full of beauty supplies (okay, ladies, do we really need six bottles of lotion?) were in a different state and I got a chance to see how little I need.
The best part of this experience was that I genuinely thrived! Sure, some strategic planning to keep things like my vibrams would’ve been helpful, but overall, I was just fine. I got back to Ohio a couple days ago and was greeted with boxes of stuff. I was shocked at how unappealing it all was to me. While I once looked at my full closet with a sense of pride, I now stare at it and mentally calculate the next item I can get rid of. I’ve had multiple friends who have managed to cut down on their possessions so much that they’ve been able to fit everything they own in the backs of their cars. Lately, this lifestyle seems so much more appealing to me.
The problem with living a lifestyle geared toward materialism is that it will never be enough. There will always be a new version of your smart phone, the perfect addition to your closet, a nicer car, or diamonds that somehow seem shinier than the ones you already own. That said, I have no problem with investing in quality purchases. It makes far more sense to me to spend a bit more money on something that will hold up, opposed to having to continually re-invest in cheaply made items. However, there is a big difference between “living for the next purchase” and allowing said purchases to enhance the quality of your life. I think the real contrast is in the non-attachment to possessions. If you live your life in pursuit of possessions, you will feel a sense of loss when they are gone. Instead, I encourage you to appreciate how “things” can enhance your life, but be so grounded internally that losing them would not truly impact you.
Find your serenity outside of possessions, people! Whether it’s through meditation, being in nature, quality interactions with other humans, or any other sort of practice. The best time to let go and start being present is Now.