Many years ago, when Mother Theresa died, I remember reading an article about her in which they recounted her earthly possessions: a sari and a washing pot. Granted, she lived in an order that provided her with her living quarters, meals, etc. but still, 2 things? I remember thinking “what would it take for me to reduce my life to two things? And what would those be?”
Recently, a friend posted this story about this young man, Andrew Hyde, who only owns 15 things. Okay, he doesn’t count socks and underwear and he counts “toiletries” as one item. He also doesn’t have a permanent address – he is travelling and works as he travels. He’s single, no children. BUT STILL – 15 THINGS?!!
Obviously his goal is to simplify his life. The beautiful statement he makes in his original blog is that his life has moved from being “stuff centric to relationship centric.” I think that is an admirable goal whether you own 15 things or 15,000 things, whether you are a nomad or have set down roots in one place. The truth of the matter is, most of us focus too much on stuff. Just because I am a thrifter, doesn’t mean I don’t own too much stuff, it just means I didn’t pay very much for all the stuff I own and by purchasing used items, I have been kind to the environment. While these are also admirable goals, I still wonder, often, why I have so much stuff.
My husband and I are at a place in our lives where we can see transition coming. Our son is in university and while he’s not completely out of the nest yet, that day is coming sooner rather than later. We have finished paying off our mortgage and so we are virtually debt free. These things give us freedom to consider things we have not considered before. I’d love to travel more. I’ve love to pay someone else to do the damn gardening. I’d love to be free enough to explore creative projects like writing. How does the stuff I own, prevent me from realizing some of these dreams?
Andrew updated his blog this January and he now owns 39 things. Wow, that made me feel so much better. (Whatever!)
If I had to reduce my life to 15 things – or 39 things – I have no idea where I’d start. Probably somewhere practical like Andrew did with things like a phone and a laptop. But could I part with my artwork? With my St. Nicholas collection? With my guitar and piano? WITH MY BOOKS? Sure I could put all my photos (thousands and thousands of photos…) on my computer but it’s not the same as looking at a framed picture. It would be a heart-wrenching process for certain.
What about you? If you had to reduce your life to 15 things, what would they be?