After walking the Camino de Santiago and surviving with 3.5 changes of clothes (this included sleepwear) and very little else; then traveling for more than 4 months with about 20kgs worth of belongings (5kgs of this is books then I have laptop, camera, first aid kit and even clothes I haven’t worn) have made me question the importance of owning lots of stuff.
I love clothes, books (this is almost an addiction!) and all the conveniences that make life easier. I love living in a place that feels like a home not a hotel room but slowly I am starting to embrace a minimalist or more simplistic way of living.
In Australia, I have boxes and furniture at my mum and step-dads, my mum’s farm, my uncles and my brothers! About 6 years ago I was leaving the army and moved in with my parents. I went from a 3 bedroom house (full!) to having a room at my parents.
Some of my furniture is very well used. My 8-seater dining table looks perfect in my parents and it has had many dinner with grandchild and family all seated round. It has had more use there then it ever did when I owned it. My military history is in boxes in a storage container at my brothers farm. To be very honest I have no idea what is even in the other boxes that are there.
Under my bed there isn’t room to hide anything else. Cluttered and dusty, and filled with God only knows what is not conducive of energy flow and thus not feng shui compliant at all.
After the Brisbane (QLD, Australia) floods of 2011, I asked my mother to donate a lot of the clothes I had in my cupboard that weren’t being used. She did go a little overboard but in reality despite being a little shocked at just how much she donated I haven’t actually missed any of those clothes, except maybe those perfect fit black stretch jeans!… Sigh!
I need to start taking a different view on consumerism and my ‘needs’ vs ‘wants’. In a few weeks I am returning to Australia for an unknown amount of time but what I do know is that I have a couple of weeks before my partner, Ignasi, arrives so this is the perfect time to not just declutter but to de-own!
Joshua Becker’s blog Don’t Just Declutter, De-own got me thinking.
I have reorganised my life a number of times. Moving around Australia whilst in the military, moving back to my parents (and just shuffling my belongings around), moving to the Middle East, then finally packing it all up and traveling.
The vast majority of my belongings are not benefiting anyone else. From a snowboard, shoes I can’t wear, fiction books I will never read again to kitchen utensils; these are items that could be used my someone else somewhere. Even if we turn the books into paper fire briquettes for our winter fire basket fires they will be more useful than just sitting on shelves collecting dust!
Debt can be an issue for people who have too much stuff, this thankfully is not the case for me. Whilst I have very little debt (a small HECS debt) and don’t own a credit card buying excess ‘things’ has meant my savings and retirement fund could have been in far better shape than they are. I do know that I am actually far better of than the vast majority of people on the planet!
Training myself not to want more is difficult. Even here in Mexico where I have been wearing the same 3 or 4 outfits over and over I want more. I want longer shorts (culturally my short denim shorts are so inappropriate) and different PJ pants (long ones are way too hot when you have no air-conditioning).
See how easy it is to want more?
When I start the process of de-owning my ‘stuff’ I know I will be forced to evaluate my life. What is truly important to me and what I am keeping out of some misguided loyalty or sheer laziness? I have been evaluating my life for a while now but there is still a ways to go!
I am not sure just how successful I will be a decluttering and de-owning but hopefully it nets me some additional money and provides some needed items to other families. The paper fire briquette has got me thinking though!!!!
Where this goes I don’t know yet but it might be a painfully refreshing experience!