Let it go
I'm currently in the process of relocating. My goal is to get rid of everything and only keep the most essential pieces with me. If it doesn't fit in my car, it doesn't make the trip. The intent with this is to start anew. I'm also in the process of really exploring minimalism with the intent of figuring out how to minimize everything in my life to the very essentials. My hope is that it will make everything in my life more efficient, help me to become less emotionally attached to "things" and focus on the more important things in life like travel and fulfilling my own goals and dreams.
As I've begun to list my furniture for sale I've had the opportunity to process the emotional attachments I'd assigned to many of the items I'm giving up. I purchased a beautiful, handmade desk and chair from a woodworker in Oregon. It took 8 weeks to make and once it arrived, it sat mostly unused for the year I've owned it as I would admire it almost everyday I walked into my apartment. Purchasing that desk was a "win" for me because it validated where I now was in life. I was making more money than I ever had and this desk, once cost prohibitive, was now sitting in my perfectly appointed apartment as a symbol of my newfound affluence. And therein lies the problem.
I allowed this $7,000+ desk and chair to define me. Simple as that. I, maybe, sat at that desk a grand total of 6 times since purchasing it over a year ago. I typically grab my laptop, hop in bed and work for hours. The very task that desk was designed for never really happened.
After listing the desk I received another huge lesson. The low-ball offers I received for the desk really infuriated me. I was aghast that people would submit such ridiculous offers, even after I'd sent them links to the website of the woodworker validating the insane craftsmanship and price of the piece they were bidding on. Hard fact is, no one cared. Their number one goal was to get the desk and get it at the cheapest price they could.
This happened with virtually everything in my apartment that I had listed. Every single piece was a negotiation down to the absolute lowest price that I would take for things that I'd paid 10 times the amount for. The $7,000 desk sold for $750.
So many great things came from this, however. I was really able to see how emotionally attached I'd become to all of these things and it really disappointed me. I've always been a nomad and up until about 10 years ago, I moved almost every 6 months. As such, I only kept a few sentimental items with me, but everything else was only there for necessity and was easy for me to give away to friends whom I knew would appreciate it. Once I really dove into corporate America, I fell into the same trap as everyone else. Once you start making money and becoming more successful you begin following the herd and purchasing things not because you need them, but because your co-worker has one, or the magazine tells you that you need this in order to be taken seriously, or in some way you're validated in conversations by saying that you own one. We start allowing things to define who we are, where we are and what we hope people will see us as, including how we see ourselves. Unfortunately, this is one of the main reasons people get "stuck." When your emotional energy is concentrated in consumption and the things that surround you, you deplete the reserves you need for yourself and people around you.
The other thing that threw me a bit was the amount of energy and passion people displayed in getting me down to my lowest price for these items. They were hell bent on getting exactly what they wanted in the shortest amount of time possible. Sound familiar? My epiphany: "What if people would put the same amount of energy, focus and action into their LIVES instead of scoring a great deal on something that adds absolutely no value to their experiences on this planet?"
I've seen so many people light up when I ask them about the sweet new car they just purchased, but who deflate when I ask them about their family life or how their job is going or when the last time was when they had a vacation. It happens more and more often, which saddens me. Consumerism is a trap. Plain and simple. It is an escape with no happy ending. It allows you to check out of life and validate your existence in the moment. However, if it were all stripped away tomorrow, how would you feel? What would you do? Whom would you be?
My journey into minimalism is something I'm doing willingly, because I want to help people extract themselves out of the vicious cycle of consumerism and focus more on living life with only the essentials. "All we need to survive is right in our own two hands." All of this built-in convenience is doing us all a tremendous disservice. It has skewed our values, bankrupted our moral reserves and reprogrammed our self-worth to be based on what we can afford vs. who we actually are as people.
Take a moment and look around you. Open the drawers throughout your home and see what's truly essential and what's not. What were the real motivations for you purchasing the car you drive? How many pairs of the shoes in your closet do you actually wear on a weekly basis? These are the types of questions that you must begin asking yourself with 100% honesty. From there you can begin to understand the motivations behind these purchases, the emotional attachments you've assigned to them, and begin to uncouple it all so that you can begin shedding the "stuff" from your life in order to get down the essentials. Then, you can begin to focus on YOU and your own transformation by lightening the load. Once you get down to the bare essentials you'll find that you're empowered, uncluttered, efficient and more interested in your next experience and adventure vs. the next cool thing you'll purchase to impress your friends. Let them lose their shit over a fast car. It's okay. But I'll bet the stories of your skydiving trip to Machu Picchu will be far more interesting to hear and the memories will be part of your life forever.