Stuff owns you, experiences grow you (Nathaniel Boyle)


That day of the breakup and in the weeks to follow it really did feel like the rug was pulled from under my feet, literally. Everything was uncertain, a big question mark. All motivation for continuing to renovate the house disappeared. What was the point? What the house stood for, it’s identity for me no longer existed. To finish the renovations now was only a means to financially go our separate ways.

We put so much meaning and sentiment behind our belongings. We wrap them up in memories. They become apart of our identity. They give us a sense of security. It’s only when they have to be moved, or something happens to them (stolen, lost or burnt in a fire) do we really consider their true purpose.  Take a minute and think about what if there was a fire in your house and you had to evacuate urgently. What would you take if you only had few minutes to decide? For me it would be my dog and my sketchbooks. Everything else is replaceable…..but really would I want to replace all of it, some of it, any of it?

Yesterday I heard Nathaniel Boyle’s quote “Stuff owns you, experiences grow you” on the Daily Travel Podcast and it instantly clicked with my new way of thinking about material possessions. I’ve had a lot of time to think whilst finishing off these these renovations. I know for sure I never want to renovate again. Owning a house is also very doubtful as I now see a house as just an over-sized fancy shed full of stuff. Probably the only thing I would miss from owning a house is the opportunity to have pets. You see my big audacious dream of the future doesn’t involve owning or being tied down by stuff. I am striving towards the freedom of long term travelling and becoming location independent.

I’ve realized I don’t need much to be fulfilled and content in terms of belongings. The best holiday I’ve had so far was in New Zealand, driving around in a small camper van. The camper van had a little stove and fridge, seating area which converted into a bed. Other than stopping off for toilet breaks and finding shower facilities, it had everything you possibly would need. I remember feeling that I would have been perfectly happy to continue living in a camper van with all its simplicity and back to basics.

So how did I get so lost along the way of making my life so complex and tied down by possessions, renovations, a house? Was it greed? Was I trying to keep up with the “Joneses”? Why did we start renovating in the first place? Why wasn’t I happy with the bachelor pad the house originally was? I have to take most of the blame and responsibility. I strongly encouraged the idea. It was a creative outlet, a project to work on because I was bored on the weekends, with life and not following what was in my heart all along of pursuing a creative career. I really enjoyed the first part of creating a design, visualizing what the house would look like when it finished. We just got carried away. It turned from being a three by one into a monstrous five by two. What makes it even more sounding ridiculous now, is that we never had plans to have children.  Really, what what all those rooms for?

It is so easy in life to follow a path of unconscious thinking of buying stuff to give a sense of security, for quick gratification, because you are bored and rewarding yourself for working all week. It is just a shame that you need a big ditch in the path, a life changing event to really jolt you out of this zombie pattern of living.

Dorothy Rowe  writes in her book “Beyond Fear” that life is all about the balances between two competing forces. Finding a balance between freedom and security is a daily life challenge. Owning possessions can give you a sense of security but not freedom. In preparing for the future, I’ve being going through all my belongings. I have a feeling of release and lightness just by shedding stuff, giving clothes/belongings away. I’ve completely lost interest in shopping. I am now perfectly happy to go into a bookshop, spend time around all the books and leave again no longer desiring to buy any (the library has become my best friend instead). I hope to get my belongings down to just a suitcase or backpack. It would be so freeing to be able to pick up and travel when I want to and not have the worry of protecting what I have left behind because all I own I can carry on my back. As I am travelling along this journey towards a minimalist life, it is starting to dawn on me that the most important possessions are not physically tangible but the memories created from experiences in life, and my thoughts and ideas.

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