I had read some article on minimizing possessions somewhere a few years ago when I realized my life lacked depth and overall happiness. This guy got rid of all his possessions until he had only 100 things. It really captivated my attention and a little stirring within my being said this guy was onto something. Each article of clothing or toiletry or photo was a possession. Every sock, every book, every thing counted. So I looked around the room at all my books, my clothes bulging out of my dresser drawers. I thought to myself, I can do this. I was moving around so much at the time, I was frustrated by belongings and wondering why I had become dependent on these “things.” I wore only a few articles of clothing. I had boxes of crap I couldn't tell you what was in them. But I lugged them around from apartment to apartment for some unknown reason.
All of my friends had so many nice things so I was a little torn on why I had felt this way, “different”. I think it ended up taking me seven days. I sobbed as I threw away photos. I had people quizzically look at me sideways when I tried to sell my books to Half Price Books for some minuscule amount of cash. I had tears welling in my eyes and the lady gave me another glance and said, “You don't have to do this you know.”
I thought, You know what? You're exactly right.
Why give them to a place that just wanted to give me a few bucks, so they could turn around and mark them up 300 percent?
So I took my books back and gave them away. I dropped them into free libraries and gave them to friends or family that I knew would appreciate them. I kept five books.
I donated bags of clothes I had completely forgotten about. I threw away old notebooks and old stories of boyfriends after re-reading them 900 times over a glass of Cabernet that week. I was so attached. So miserable? I had become a mess of things.
It was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I felt crazy. But I felt free. I had more time to invest in things I cared about. I stopped manically searching through my belongings everyday. I knew what I had and what I didn't. I carried what I needed in my backpack.
This was about five years ago, so naturally I have found myself back to having too many things. I realized this when I was in Tokyo hauling around a 50 lb. bag on my back of clothes I wouldn't wear. My shoulders were bruised and bleeding. I was literally carrying my burdens on my shoulders. I couldn't believe it. I thought I had changed into an enlightened guru, when I was just carrying around my belongings like Quasimodo.
I ended up leaving that bag locked away or storing it somewhere, and carrying one change of clothes with me, and cutting what I had on, to survive the crazy heat and avoid purchasing new stuff.
But here I was storing these things. I was so afraid someone would take from me. They were WINTER clothes in 110 heat. What was I thinking? I could have easily donated them and been free from that. But I still was stuck in the possession trap. And I still am.
But it's a daily thought in my head. When I'm hesitant to hang on, when someone asks me for something whether money or an item to borrow and I catch myself hesitating. I try to just give. I have stopped trying to hang onto to these strange objects that I must claim to make myself feel whole. The only kind of whole I feel with having material things, is a hole within me.
After traveling and seeing so many people with absolutely nothing, I would look at my clothes, my phone in my hand, my debit card in my bag and think.
I have so much. I have so much. I have so much.
We are living in a country where we talk about helping people and then shove each other out of the way on Black Friday to buy things made in countries of crushing poverty. We drive past people with less than us, in our running car with our WINDOWS ROLLED UP listening to NPR. We are living a lie. We buy and consume and throw away without thinking about anyone else but ourselves. The trash is sitting in the ocean, children are picking through it in slums, and we sit comfortably in coffee shop. Consuming with our possessions.
“The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. “