I have a long-term goal of living a more simple life, which is a far cry from where I was in my mid-twenties. When I was in the corporate world, my boss owned my time. And, since I didn’t own my time, I felt compelled to own things. I looked to my possessions to define me and represent who I was. The cycle was: get paid more, work more, buy more.
Then, some years ago, I heard the saying, “The things you own end up owning you.” My buying behavior came into perspective and I found myself buying fewer things, because I didn’t like the idea of being owned by my possessions (it was bad enough being owned by my boss – haha). It didn’t take long before I realized that I yearned to own my time, not material objects, and that I longed for a more simple life. (Here is a very cool story regarding stuff that further strengthened my resolve.)
I’ve been successful at reducing my consumer footprint, and I’m happy with the results. I know what I’m doing is healthy for my soul and for the earth. It didn’t happen overnight, and it took some getting used to. Now, when I think about making a purchase, whether it’s food, clothing, kitchen equipment, books, electronics, etc, I take the time to think through the following: 1) Do I really need it? 2) Do I really want it? 3) Can I wait 2-weeks and then decide whether to buy it? 4) What resources and energy went into making this product and what am I doing to the earth by consuming it? After going through those questions, I have found that in most cases, I’m eager to say “no” and happy as a result.
Fast forward to today: I still have a lot of things from my previous lifestyle and it became apparent that it was time to declutter my home by cleaning, purging, recycling and throwing many of them away. The quote I reference earlier about “…things owning you” has taken on new life for me. I always thought about it with respect to monetary issues (buy fewer things, fewer things own me). Now, it goes beyond that, because possessions not only cost money, but they also cost time, the thing I’m anxious to own. This became apparent when I started thinking about how hard it is to keep my home clean. Why? Because I own too much shit. Hence, I have too much to dust. Couple that with the fact that I live in the desert with a dog that sheds, and I have a recipe for dust-covered objects. I pretty much have to thoroughly clean every couple of days, or when that Arizona sun comes streaming through my windows it can be a gross site when I see all the dust floating through the air. I immediately think, “Oh boy, that’s either going to end up on my floor, bed, table, etc, or I’m breathing it in. Ick!” Bottom line, I was spending too much of my precious time cleaning and wanted to figure out a way to reduce that. Answer: Have fewer things to dust.
Therefore, I decided to declutter and clean my home – purge style. I spent a couple of days going from top to bottom, under beds, through closets/cupboards, etc and created a HUGE pile of stuff to recycle, give to Goodwill, and throw out. It felt so good, cleansing, and liberating.
Considering the future: As many of you know, we’re doing some family planning, and we’re definitely interested in homeschooling. Apart from the obvious benefit our kids will experience from it, we also want to travel the world with them during these childhood years (even living abroad part of it). This requires packing and moving. When the time comes (whether it’s sooner or later), I want to be able to put as few things into storage as possible, making it quick and easy to pack up and go. When I think about possessions in that perspective, it quickly becomes apparent that if I haven’t used it within the past year, odds are that I don’t need it and someone else might get better use out of it than me (time to recycle). “This house is clean.”