As I sat on the couch browsing through the channels on TV, I thought about the number of shows covering topics of hoarding, consumerism, learning to live a clutter-free life, organization, and the overall drive toward controlling our seemingly out of control materialistic natures. I wondered if this was just a new “trend” created by the media to gain market share in our obsession with reality tv or if it really is a look inside our culture and how we have defined who we are by what we own? Is it about “keeping up with the Jones’s”? Is it how we need to define our status to those around us? Does what we own define how successful we are? Or have we just become so attached and comforted by our possessions it has consumed our lives?
I am certainly a person who loves “things”. I also have particular and sometimes expensive taste (just ask my husband) but what I am learning is to think very carefully and wait for those illusive items. I used to buy several of one thing in different styles trying to “make do” knowing I could not afford the specific brand of an item I so desperately wanted. Once I started consciously paying attention to just what I was (happily) donating I realized that the money I had spent on those 6 wallets could have bought me that one high-priced designer one I still could not afford. I am learning to do without, or make do with just one of something rather than having several of similar things. Do I really need 8 cell phone cases when I only have one phone? Do I really need 6 black purses that are all similar in size and style? How many pairs of cheap black yoga pants is too many when one really good pair might suffice?
I had a ton of “stuff” until my fiancée and I had to move our two houses into one large storage unit and live with just our essential items for almost a year. He moved to another city and lived with my parents while I moved into a small house with a roommate who had already been living in the house for some time so had everything we would require for a comfortable life. I moved with me my clothes, essential personal items, my bed, a book shelf and my University books. EVERYTHING else went into storage. Over a year later, after we were married and our newly built house was ready, we had the daunting task of moving that storage unit of items from two houses into a very small and brand new home. We also had all our brand new wedding gifts. I remember unlocking that storage unit when we pulled up with the U-Haul, and looking over at C. We both had a look of dread on our faces and asked ourselves if we really needed to move all this stuff or could we just leave the door open with a sign that said “FREE” and walk away? We realized if we hadn’t missed any of our stuff in over a year, we likely didn’t need it. It was a long process but such a great feeling to purge well over half of what we had both been hanging onto for far too long.
I am still in a process of purging things from our lives. I find myself getting easily overwhelmed walking around the house looking at everything that was nice to have in the moment, but have served no purpose for far too long. We made a considerably smaller storage room in this house for the very reason of thinking what, besides holiday decorations and luggage, really needs to be stored? If we don’t use it, why hang onto it? If we think we might use it one day then why not just purchase it when we truly do rather than hanging onto things for that “just in case” moment that likely won’t come? We both truly enjoy living without clutter and it sure makes cleaning the house a whole lot easier! It also makes living a lot simpler and happier. We can focus more on what is truly important; what has deep sentimental value over what just makes us remember a funny story; items that are truly those can’t-live-without over those what-the-heck-was-I-thinking items, and leaves us more time to focus on creating memories around experiences rather than attaching them to our things.
Possessions come in and out of our lives, we can trade them, donate them, gift them or keep them. Memories are ours and ours alone. No one can ever take them away from us and we can keep memories in a pretty small container and take them wherever we go.
I just can’t help but wonder, if I had to up and move suddenly, what possessions could I truly not leave behind?