I remember coming back from college the summer after freshman year, looking at a room full of stuff that I hadn´t used and wondering how I got it all. Then, I just started giving it away. I didn´t even realize that it was a part of my lifestyle until when at my college graduation party, my mom mentioned this habit as something she admired. Now, I am spending July to March traveling and working in South America, out of a backpack, and I continue to wonder, what do we really need?
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less” – Socrates
So, here are some of my random thoughts on minimalism, “Living with Less”. It seems that as Americans, when we are bored, we consume. We buy new DVDs or invest money in new hobbies. (I do all this). Then we look at a blank shelf and wonder what we could put there and we head to Pottery Barn or an Antique Shop for that perfect “thing” to fit that hole on the shelf. (Guilty). Consider even, the stimulus package: it was given for the purpose of consumption under the pretense that buying more would be good for the economy.
And at the end of the day, we end up with rooms, houses, garages, and storage units full of stuff that we have used once or twice and left by the wayside. And I wonder if this consumption inspired by boredom is what we must really do to be happy? And I wonder that if everything I own was stolen, would I be less content? I think back to the robbery in Guatemala, and sad as I was that all my stuff was gone, I realized that it wasn´t the end of the world, and that I could survive without all the stuff that I had lost. Packing as I did for Peru, I realized that all I am taking in my 55l Osprey is all I will really need for the next few months. More than that, I realize that I would be satisfied with what I brought for longer than a few months.
My revelation lies not in the desire to give up everything we own, but the evaluation that the things I own don´t make me who I am. It lies in the realization that the most spectacular parts, the best memories in your life will never be created by the things you bought, but by people you were with. So, endeavour, as I do, to make your life less about what you buy and more about those with whom you can share your life with.