I remember as a kid always wishing that I had more stuff. I wanted each and every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figure, I wanted more pocket money so I could buy more candy, more die-cast cars, more this and more that. I grew up in a world where having it all was part of the dream.
Into my late teens and early adulthood that continued. I wanted to work hard so I could buy a house, get a good car, have a top of the range suit, the gold cufflinks for the once in 4 year event, every DVD for every movie I ever enjoyed or anyone I knew had enjoyed. Finally when I had everything I would be able to sit down surrounded by all my stuff whispering to myself, “Forest, you made it bud, you really made it”.
Oh MY, things have changed! Yesterday I packed up yet again and left my home in Auckland to crash at friends before a 6-week trip back to the UK. I’ll be returning back to Auckland in September and then heading off travelling the country. Below you can see ALL my stuff and when I return I hope to have even less and even smaller bags.
Minimizing my possessions has been gradual. It started when I first left the UK for Canada 5 years ago. At that point, I had belongings all over the place with parents, friends and everywhere. Each visit back to the UK has seen me go through that stuff, and the stuff I carry with me, and purge it either throwing away, selling, or giving it to charity. Apart from what you see above, all I own are a couple of folders and a box of stuff from my childhood which lives in my mothers attic where it will likely gather dust for all eternity.
We all grow attached to our stuff and been through the pain of parting ways with inanimate objects. However, I think the freedoms that come from owning practically nothing far outweigh the pros of having tons of stuff.
Knowing that within a few hours I can be back on the road with all my belongings is comforting to me. It gives a clear mind, far less stress and worry.
More possessions lead to more things to think about. You need to store them safely, worry about where you left them and make sure you keep everything in prime condition.
Say you have every kind of tool in your shed, you have to keep them all rust free, worry about someone breaking in to the shed, worry about finding the right tool when you may actually need it for that one job. If you have 10 pairs of shoes you need to keep them stashed away to keep the hallway from getting cluttered. Having two cars can lead to to having to insure and service them both each and every year.
Living in a world of stuff keeps your mind believing you need to acquire more, upgrade and change constantly.
I think the late great George Carlin really caught the needless stress we all have about stuff in his famous sketch about “STUFF”
I admit that I am still attached to the little amount of things I own. I’m working hard detaching myself from objects and putting my mental attachments into experiences and people. The things that really matter, to me at least.
It is hard to break our addiction to the things we own and aspirations to own more things as the world we live in preaches that it is related to success. I see it differently and believe that choosing your stuff wisely is far more important.
Probably the most important of my stuff is the computer I am writing on now. It allows me to live my life of freedom of location, keep in contact with friends and family, and acts as an entertainment hub. My phone has replaced my bulky camera, which enables me to store digital memories that can be stored and accessed forever. Asides from a pair of shoes, a pair of glasses and basic clothing, I no longer feel like I actually need anything and that is liberating.
I believe we are all capable of downsizing, simplifying and becoming less attached to things. My post How To Simplify Your Life goes into more detail on how you can begin to minimize.
Of course, you may think I am nuts and have it all totally wrong but that’s cool. We all need to follow the path we believe is right.
I look forward to any thoughts, advice or comments you have.