This is a story that I’ve probably told too many time already. Since I’m reminiscing about the key moments in my life that led me to pursue a more simple, minimalist life, it’s worth telling again. Time has given me some perspective about it, though. In retrospect it feels less like a major accomplishment to be proud of and more… obvious. It only feels like a huge milestone in the context of the cultural norms of consumerism.
When Katie and I were preparing to move to Finland we sold, donated, gave away, recycled, or trashed nearly everything we owned. We managed to get down to two large suitcases and a carry-on bag each. Nearly five years later, I think I could have realistically gotten my stuff down to a single suitcase plus the carry-on. There are things I never wear, don’t use, and rarely look at that didn’t need to be hauled across the ocean.
The reasons for this were practical. Moving house completely would have been expensive. To put things in storage, even for the two years we originally planned to be here, would have created an ongoing monthly cost. Our stuff wasn’t worth it. Our first apartment was furnished. All we needed were our clothes, some necessities, and a few precious mementos. Everything else was replaceable.
It taught me a lot about attachment. We need things to live, but they’re practical considerations, not sentimental ones. I no more needed the particular pot I cooked with in Albuquerque than I needed the same toilet. That’s not to say I didn’t love our comfy bed in the United States. I also love our bed here. If we do another major move in the future, I’ll undoubtedly love whatever bed we have there. It’s a bed.
A lot of it has to do with living in the moment and looking forward. Dragging material possessions around is like dragging the past around. If we felt that holding onto all of our stuff was necessary, we wouldn’t be here. It would have weighed us down and made it impossible. The opportunities, and the freedom, have been much more valuable than the total mass of material possessions we shed.