While I don’t really like to admit it, and I don’t like to think of myself this way, but when I think about having to get rid of my worldly possessions, I’m pretty unhappy about it. Call me materialistic, but I like my stuff. I like my bed, my pillows, my thin wine glasses, my couch, my lamps, my books, my knickknacks.
When I went traveling last time, I didn’t have to get rid of any possessions. I was to come back to my apartment, my relationship, my cat, my life. All I had to do was pack a few things and live out of my backpack for 8 months. I didn’t bring much clothing, and when I got tired of wearing the same clothes for 5 months straight, I bought new clothes. It wasn’t so hard.
The relationship didn’t work. I got home, he moved away, and it was my first real experience with having limited possessions. My apartment was bare, furniture was sparse to say the least, but it was freeing and I really enjoyed it. It was mine. I was making it on my own.
A relationship started, my cat died, and I began to want to fill my home with furnishing that I worked for and represented my taste, my self-sufficiency. It might be odd, but my furnishing my home I felt like I was proving to myself that I was making it. And when I began to replace the cheap furniture and kitchenware that I had, then, I really felt that I had made it. I was an adult, with nice things. Not extravagant things, necessarily, but nice things. I felt that I had arrived, I was respectable.
Because I worked hard for my things, and accumulated them slowly, I grew attached to them and in a way, they somehow defined me. They are part of my story, my history. I remember buying each piece, how it made me feel, and where I was in my life. Through them I also learned to trust again, to open up and share. They are shared possessions, milestones in our relationship.
Now that we are married and are set to leave on our honeymoon, I am faced with the fact that I have to get rid of my possessions. I wish that I could store it all, so that it still be there when we return, but this is not without complication. Storage is expensive. We do not know exactly where we want to live after our trip, but it will not be Vancouver. Where would we store our belongings then, so that they are strategically located? How would we get our belongings to our new home? Are our possessions really worth spending so much over, or would it not be easier, and more affordable, to simply start from scratch in our new country we will call home?
Logic says, yells, that we need to part with our belongings. And so, I need to get over the discomfort of parting with my possessions, and to just do it. It won’t be easy, in fact, it will difficult and time-consuming, but it will get done. In the end, I think that there will be a beauty in the simplicity of keeping only the essential – a new-found freedom.
I wanted to find the perfect tag for this post, and for those to follow. I just couldn’t think of the right word. Purging, reducing, getting rid of our possessions, minimizing – they just don’t have the right ring to them.
I googled around a bit to see what would come up, and I found an article from the New York Times. I thought that if anyone was to use a good word, it would probably be them. The article was actually quite interesting, and spoke of “the voluntary simplicity movement”. I found my word in the article: downshifting. It just fits so perfectly, and I really like that it is linked with the ideology of simplifying your life and your possessions so that they no longer own you.
You can read the article here: Chasing Utopia, Family Imagines No Possessions.