One thing about moving from a houseboat into a sailboat is that there isn’t any room for Stuff. No huge closets, no chest of drawers, no place to display knicknacks or photos, no cabinets in which to stuff endless kitchen supplies. In fact, anything sitting “out” would get thrown around the cabin during a battle with ocean swells, so best to keep the Stuff to a minimum, and what you do have, tuck away and batten down.
I began divorcing stuff one year ago. I decided I needed to downsize, to create space and freedom in my life. A dress here, a kitchen tool there, a knicknack here; all went to Goodwill. Slowly but surely, I began to lose my emotional connection with Stuff, even Stuff I’d hauled around for years. I don’t need this, or this, or that, I’d think as I chucked yet another item into the donation pile. In essence, I was doing what Marie Kondo recommended before I’d even heard of her popular book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” But I’d taken it to another extreme. In reality, I was living with almost nothing. And it sure felt good.
Saturday, April 30th, was moving day, and over the weeks leading up, I donated even more stuff to Goodwill. I went through my limited supply of bins, and emptied and consolidated two more. Now, all that’s left of my worldly possessions are what you see here. A few bins containing childhood mementos, namely two boxes of Breyer horses I can’t bear to get rid of (I haven’t released my emotional connection yet), two conga drums, and a couple suitcases I will leave in my car as my current “closet”. The rest I will soon drive up to my Mom’s garage in Portland, Oregon. Even looking at this photo, I feel I have too much Stuff.
I’ve come to realize that Stuff bogs us down. It makes our lives and our energy cluttered. It ties us to one place. It becomes a nag, a force, something to reckon with. It seems like Getting Rid of Stuff is the back of everyone’s mind. Even at a recent party crammed with 30-somethings in the Silicon Valley, the topic came up over and over again. “Does it bring you joy?” People asked one another. The usual resounding answer is “No.
I know that Stuff doesn’t bring me joy. I have Stuff, but I use that Stuff to find pleasure and deep meaning in nature and dance and music. I have hiking boots and a backpack, which allow me to hike through the redwoods and desert and for 230 miles this summer on the John Muir Trail. I have heels from Buenos Aires that help me tango. I have slippers that I wear while doing ballet. I have a car that drives me to see friends and go to the gym and see new, interesting things. My stuff is just an accomplice to my joy.
Through giving up Stuff, I have gained freedom. Independence. A clutter-free life, both visually and energetically. I feel like a part of myself is hollowed out, ready to accept new experiences, new joy.
And I feel ready to explore the world.