108. Personal belongings

The slow process of shedding skin. Not the sort that hides my skeleton, but the sort that defines me in another way. My stuff. My acquisitions. From the $150 dollar mattress I bought last year to the perfectly good chair I snagged from beside the dumpster behind my apartment building, mostly everything has to be gone.

“Has to” is an interesting way to put it, but that’s what it feels like. Sure there’s plenty of things I possess with cherished connections to my past… trinkets, books, pieces of art. I can’t even get rid of a sweatshirt I never wear because at one point it was my favorite article of clothing I’d ever owned. There are plenty of things I’ve removed from the “Everything Must Go” liquidation, but when I look around, I see my things as nothing more than that: things. And I’m not bringing many things with me when I leave, so the non-valued personal belongings have to be gone.

It is quite the sensation to whittle away at your personal belongings. It is incredibly relieving to put more than half of your wardrobe into bags for donation, to just look at the things you possess with real, sensible honesty. Do I need this? Do I wear this? Have I even touched this item in the last six months? Mostly, I know which things I’m absolutely not going to need in the next four months, and also what I definitely won’t be using in a wet, humid, hot-as-hell tropical climate.

We don’t get to do this very often. Usually we have our things and that’s that. It takes a dramatic life move to compel us to get rid of a few things. Some of the simplest of us still live very cluttered lives, and this isn’t including the bills we pay to afford these cluttering devices. I mean, this is just what happens. Sit still for too long and moss is sure to grow.

There is more to shed. There are the things I can’t get rid of.

It is hard to suggest for people to rid themselves of their personal belongings for no good reason. It is best instead to express how the act of getting rid of things you don’t honestly need or use is an empowering choice to make. Plus you can make a small profit.

Know when you’re not going to miss something, let it go.

When you don’t need much, you spend less, and somehow it feels like you have more. I am aiming now for the simplest life I can get. I want all my things to fit into a backpack.

After all, the important stuff is shelter, food, water, air, and companionship. You can’t get that from an oak desk, or a stack of videogames, or extra pillows. We spend so much on things that do nothing for our well-being. We collect nonessentials compulsively. It is simply the way of the world, for the most part. We’re all hoarders to some degree. We take the truly important stuff for granted, measuring our lives not by how fresh the air is that we breathe, or how strong our relationships are, but with trophies of social value, like premium cable, ten thousand dollar weddings, and sports cars.

I’m not sure what a life without personal belongings feels like. At a certain point, I’m going to be rendered homeless. I will have my backpack and the clothes on my person, nothing more. I imagine I will feel extremely light. I will have so little to ground me in any place, and no need to collect things, moving in a consistent state of appreciating what’s around me. It’s not for everyone, to go to this extreme, but I do suggest taking a good hard look at the things you own and wonder why you own them.

Are you using it?

Do you care about it?

Then shed it. It’s weighing you down.


8 thoughts on “108. Personal belongings

  1. Although on a much smaller scale, I can certainly relate as I’m preparing for a big move myself. I’ve discovered that more “stuff” equals more STRESS.

  2. It was all good until you mentioned the word ‘profit’. In a few words or just one if possible, what is driving you to make thisndrastic change, and also write this article?

  3. Reblogged this on In the EYE of the Beholder and commented:
    Here is someone, showing classic symptoms of the belief they have understood that their belongings are the cause of the clutter. When it is all gone, another realisation may kick in. “I’m not as de-stressed as I thought I’d be.” and “Now I feel smug that I don’t live like anyone else, and I will benefit from that emotionally.”

    Not realising that the need to make it public panders to the same psychological ticks that caused the accumulation in the first place. The need to blog that information is an ego-activity.

    There are too many “me” and “I” parts to the piece.

    1. I agree that this post was more personal than most of the others, in that I was inspired to write it after the elating sensation of giving away and selling just a few of my smaller possessions. The reason for this downsizing is because I am graduating this semester and already have a one-way flight purchased to Southeast Asia, where I plan to travel solo for an indefinite amount of time, live simply, and find a teaching job somewhere in the area. So I am in the process of whittling down my belongings until it all fits in a backpack.

      I also agree that it’s not my belongings that give me stress. In fact, I really don’t feel all that stressed at all, except when it comes to paying bills. It feels twice as good to cancel a subscription to something I don’t need, perhaps because that directly affects how much money I’ll have before leaving.

      In the end, I think this experience has surprised me because I find how little attachment I have to almost everything I own, which makes me wonder why I ever owned it or allowed it into my life in the first place.

      1. I did the same. I lived in Germany for 10 years and owned practically everything one CAN own. I had no trouble at all just giving it away. I was surprised myself. I had amassed some very valuable things (from a materialistic point of view).

        I found it liberating to give it up, ubt I guess my motives to do the same ‘now’ is quite different.

        I realised the reasons I bought those things was to be secure. When I realised recently that security is completely fake, as were the motives for buying them in the first place, it was easy to give them up.

        Same with alcohol 5 years ago. Smoking, sex, education, religion, TV, music….ALL of it. All based around my insecurities. Actually giving them up GAVE me security. 😀

        I wish you well on your travels.

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