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Where to start?

Posted in: Breaking Free on Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Where do you start when confronted with the task of packing up almost a decade of accumulated possessions? Most people would say “at the beginning” and I can’t argue with that logic. The problem with tasks this big is that the beginning is an often indeterminable point. I know where the end is, I can see it, it’s just that there’s so much to do between this point and the finish that it’s easy to be overwhelmed to the point of crippling inactivity.

I try to make lists, I’ve started with the second bedroom, which for years has been the dumping ground for all those things collected that don’t have a home of their own. So they end up in the second bedroom to pile up on top of each other and be forgotten. Until today. Today I must decide the fate of each item in that room. For a person who finds decision making mentally draining, the prospect is off-putting to say the least. Traumatic if I wanted to err on the side of the dramatic.

I need boxes, space to put piles of sorted items `Rehome’, `Dump’, `Garage Sale’. I’m finding it hard to part with things, which is silly. Silly when you think that I haven’t thought about these items for years, haven’t touched or moved them, and yet the sudden sight of them again overwhelms me with memories. They begin to take on the importance of relics, relics from my past, tangible links to memories that feel a little more distant each year. They become hard to part with. I’ve had to allow myself to keep some of my most precious items, only the most significant of treasures, so that I may be able to part with the majority of them. I must save some so that I can sacrifice the rest.

The very nature of the process forces you to question and really evaluate the importance we place on material goods. And why we need to accumulate them and why parting with them is so hard. Our lives and flesh are fleeting things, why do we spend so much time chasing things, working to buy more things or working  just to afford the things we already have? I’m starting to see how the possession of things, the weight of our worldly goods, hold us down, prevent us from truly living in the moment.

People can’t be carried with the winds of spontaneity, they can’t zig when the world expects them to zag, can’t live free to the impulse of adventure when they’re surrounded by four walls. Four walls that need a constant stream of money to maintain and to keep ownership in your name. Four walls that need to insured and cared for in your absence. Four walls that will keep you rooted within them for as long as they stand.

But four walls don’t bring all bad, they provide shelter, security and the continuity of home in an ever changing world. Those aren’t bad things, nor is it bad to want them. I’m just not sure it’s how we were meant to live. There has to be other ways to have those things and be more in tune with the world and it’s beauty. There has to be a way to be secure and safe while not losing the ability to roam free, to head for the horizon just to see what lies beyond it. There has to be a way to experience the richness and beauty of life without being tied to a job, a house and all the commitments that go with it.

We think there is. It’s why we’re now parting with 10yrs worth of collected possessions and the four walls that keep them. Leaving them behind for a life less rich in material wealth and more abundant in the pleasures that give meaning to life. A more authentic existence. One open to risk, challenges, spiritual and personal growth. The full gamut of what life has to throw at us.

It’s not an easy process divesting yourself of all that you own, but it’s a life changing one. One that everyone should go through once, and more importantly of their own volition. This is a distinctly different process than losing all that you own through tragedy or misfortune. This in an empowering process driven by choice with you at the helm. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose all that you own without control or choice. I may have to though, depending on how high the waves roll.

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4 comments

  1. Melissa White says:

    True words! We’re finding it pretty hard to decide what to do with our family home. We’ve invested so much time and energy making the house a ‘home’ and so many things we have are those we built ourselves. Not to mention we have a kid who still needs to know he has a home to come to during university breaks! You are fortunate to have started this journey early in your adult lives.

  2. Sarah says:

    The answer will come, it’s a daunting decision to part with the family home, renting it might be a solution, a good safety net too. We were only renters before so we had no house that we owned to part with. We also didn’t have the capital the comes with selling a house. The property market here is too hard to get into as first home buyers so we decided to skip it all together.

  3. Brianna Randall says:

    Beautifully said, and definitely hits home. My husband and I are divesting 10 years of “stuff” to live aboard, starting next month. But for the next 6 weeks, we’re in the throes of the empowering — and sometimes painful — process of whittling down our own “earthly goods.”

    Thanks for this!

  4. Sarah says:

    Thanks for your comment Brianna! Empowering and painful process indeed, but i’m so excited that you’re making such a big life change. You won’t regret it. It surprised me how much stuff we collected over the years, and collecting stuff is proving a hard habit to break, we have to set very strict rules about what we bring aboard and how long stuff stays aboard if it’s not used regularly. Looking forward to reading about your new life! Best wishes!

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