If you only owned 15 things what would they be?

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?

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7 Responses to If you only owned 15 things what would they be?

  1. And I thought the guy who only had 100 personal items was a bit extreme. He didn’t even include shared family things like plates and couches. I’m doing Project 333 this season and have already learned that I could do with less than 33 items of clothing. But 15?? Toiletries, some clothes, cellphone, ipod, reusable travel coffee cup, wedding ring… it’s too hard. We are reducing our excess though. It’s really wonderful. Mother Theresa was given pews by the Pope for her convents chapel. She sold them and used the money to help the poor.

    • this is why i love blogging – i’ve never heard of project 333 so i did a quick perusal of that website. fascinating! i think i may have to give this a try as well. oh my… and Mother Theresa… isn’t she wonderful? she was a saint long before she died. thanks for commenting!

      • I learned of Project 333 through other bloggers. It’s been great so far.
        I have been planning to write a post all about how inspiring Mother Theresa is to me. Not only has she touched the lives of Catholics, but the whole world. If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
        Mother Teresa

  2. This is a lovely and thought-provoking post. Not sure I can answer your question without a lot of thought. I am trying to reduce the stuff in our home that just gets in the way and doesn’t really bring anyone any pleasure anymore. However, I am still adding new stuff like you are, but it is stuff that I use and appreciate. Hmmm…

  3. beverly says:

    your post certainly made me take a step back from where i am now in my life. i am so busy and focused on getting great bargains at thrifting that i’ve forgotten how the stuff i am slowly accumulating impacts my life and my relationships 🙂 this is sooo thought-provoking and ive never heard of project 333 either until now 🙂 thank you and thanks to stephanie too for mentioning project 333!

    • i certainly didn’t intend to make anyone feel guilty for finding bargains! it just is a great reminder from time to time to consider why we purchase stuff. one of the things i do seasonally is get rid of things, which will be happening here soon if our weather ever warms up and i haul out my spring/summer clothing and start editing my fall/winter wardrobe! when i was reading stephanie’s adventures, i thought “maybe i could get RID of 33 things…”

      • beverly says:

        so true! no i dont feel guilty with my bargains at all 🙂 in fact i am always giddily excited about them. its just that, like you said, it is good to reflect on the reasons why we buy the stuff we buy sometimes. also, it is easier to spring clean and get rid of stuff when you know you didnt spend a huge fortune for it 🙂

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