One of my favorite things I’ve found since moving to Chicago is that I get to see a lot of my friends as they travel through. My proximity to O’Hare gives me an ideal opportunity to connect with them as they pause through their journeys. Just yesterday, I had a chance to have lunch with a great guy who had reduced his belongings for his trip to fit into one good sized rucksack.
We talked a lot about Leo Babuta’s zenhabits blog and his focus on minimalism, and we also talked about how much more liberating travel is when all you have to worry about is one satchel.
Lugging your possessions through lobbies, airport terminals and along sidewalks gives you ample time to contemplate the usefulness and true value of what you are carrying. Two Georges help me illustrate my point: If you’ve ever watched George Carlin’s comedy routine on “Stuff,”Â or watched George Clooney in the film, Up in the Air and his “backpack analogy,” then you’ll understand where I’m coming from with this post.
On a very personal note, I filed for divorce about five and a half years ago and have spent the time since literally giving away most of my stuff. A five bedroom house. Gone. Most of the stuff that furnished it. Gone. Thousands of dollars of blankets, decor, candlesticks, …stuff. Gone. Donated to Goodwill.
When I moved to Chicago, I either gave away or sold anything that wouldn’t fit into a U-Haul panel van and made my journey here. Things were an obstacle.
Clearing my life of extraneous clutter and stuff helped, but this post is also about why we accumulate things in the first place and how that compulsion to do so keeps us from our independence. I am not a monk and I’m not suggesting that you become one; rather, I would encourage you to take a look around your house. Take a quick inventory of the things you purchased either for status or because it was something that society said that you needed to own in order to “qualify” for the role you wish to represent.
What things do you really LOVE? What things express your individuality or add joy to your life? What things reflect your true values? How many of them are duplicates? How would streamlining your life help you achieve more?
“Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.”Â – Henry David Thoreau
When we take a moment to cull our possessions to the essential, authentic items that combine elements of utility and beauty, you will find that you need fewer of them. You will be packing lighter, so to speak, and anyway, you can’t take nothin’ with you but your soul (to paraphrase John Lennon). When you have fewer dust catchers, you have more time to devote to other things: your studies, your vocation, a hobby…other people. You’ll have more time to evolve into the person you would like to become, perhaps.
One of the best books about the exchange of energy for stuff I’ve read is Your Money or Your Life. For me, it distilled my focus into realizing what truly was important to me and gave me a guideline to achieve my goals. (NOTE: I do not benefit financially from this link. It’s simply a recommendation).
Stuff is wonderful; stuff is beautiful and having the right stuff when you need it is priceless. Understanding our relationship to Stuff is essential to claiming our independence, however. What owns whom? What has been your experience?
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive)