The other day I was mindlessly scrolling my Facebook feed when I saw the post of one of my favorite nomads, Sherry Ott.
She had a photo of her in front of the Canadian Rockies flashing a giant grin and thumbs up. I scrolled back up. Just above her inspiring outdoor post was a photo of someone’s brand new granite countertops. Guess how many likes the two prospective posts received?
Sherry: 53, Granite countertops: 117
I staggered back, aghast. Are countertops really more appealing than seeing the majesty of jutting peaks? I’m pretty sure I referred to a barf bag in my last post, but looks like I’ll be needing it again.
The purpose of this article is not to trot around you in circles on my high horse, but instead, it’s to make you think. What do you want out of life? Stuff or experiences?
[bctt tweet=”What do you want out of life? Stuff or experiences? “]
Stuff makes me boil. Part of the reason it gets me so worked up is because I am such a freaking consumer. I try to be above it all. Above the clutter, the crap, the constant need for more, more, more, but I’m just as guilty as the next gal. I like shoes. I like scarves. I love jewelry. Love, love, love. Stuff, stuff, stuff.
When the Victoria Secret semi-annual sale comes around, most people don’t just come home with a few pair of knickers. No, they come home with not only a pair of underwear for every day of the week, but every week of the year. They come home with the whole Kitten Caboodle — and the Barbie Dreamhouse, too.
Flip through the television and probably 80 percent of the channels you land on will be advertisements. Open your Internet browser and, Oh, gee, isn’t that nice? There is an ad for that comforter I’ve been price-stalking online. What’s that, Internet? There’s a cheap tour to South Africa. Why golly, how did you know I wanted to go there?
They know. And guess what, we fall right into the trap. We click on that link and before they can say, “Would you like fries with that?” the Mastercard is entered and more crap is on its way, plus a friggin’ strawberry milkshake.
So how can we quell this yearning for more crap? It’s a complete brain overhaul. Consumerism is an addiction, and just like with any recovering addict, you’ll always have setbacks and cravings. But, if you are consciously seeking help and looking to improve, it will at least save you the pain and embarrassment of ending up on an episode of “Hoarders.”
Don’t delay, downsize!
When you’re in the mood, make the most of it. When nature calls, purge. And, purge some more. Don’t hold onto it. Make like Frozen and “Let it go, let it go!” If you are really attached, take the advice of the kids watching Frozen. Take a picture; it lasts longer. I knew a woman who did just that. She just took pictures of her stuff then she got rid of it. If she missed it, she’d look at the picture. Seriously, the thing you are holding onto does not have feelings. It will not miss you back. Your great-great aunt Velma will not roll over in her grave when you toss that crystal bird she gave you for your wedding into the Goodwill pile. Put the bird down.
Out of sight, out of mind
Once you’ve got a stash to haul to the local charity of your choice, get your butt in the car and get it out of your hands as fast as possible. Don’t go through it, don’t even think about it. I sometimes get this terrible sense of purger’s remorse and think, “Oh, maybe I’ll keep that skirt. Maybe I’ll go back to an office job some day.” I live in an RV and move every three months. That’s not gonna happen. Get real with yourself and get rid of it—fast!
Practically drowning in it
Practical, I’m very practical and I hate wasting money, or so I think. Tell that to Target. The truth is, I have no problem wasting money when I’m buying something I don’t need; however, I have a problem when I finally realize I don’t need that thing seven months down the road. Then you have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. Here’s the thing: I shouldn’t have bought it in the first place, but shoulda, coulda, woulda. I did buy it. Now I have to live with my lust and stupidity, and I have to make the decision. Do I hold onto this item I have no need or desire for, or do I add it to the collection of stuff that is drowning me? If you are someone who likes to sell on eBay or Craigslist, great. Go that route, but for me it’s too much work. And, I know myself. If I don’t get rid of it right away, it will lay in waste for another couple of years.
Take preventative measures
Before getting past the point of no return and hanging a left at Regretsville, let’s practice saving ourselves the trouble. Just don’t buy it in the first place! Easier said than done, I hear ya. Again, think like a recovering addict. If you are a recovering alcoholic, you don’t go to the bar every night for wings and football, cause you know you’re gonna want a beer—and then 12 more. The same is true for buying stuff. For me, Target is my trigger. So, maybe I should avoid the place when it comes to grocery shopping and stick to Trader Joes, where the only unnecessary stuff I can stock up on is wine and Speculoos peanut butter cups. (Unnecessary? Pfft. Never use that word in reference to wine and chocolate again.)
Other people’s stuff
I don’t want to deal with the subject of death with too much sass and insensitivity, because I know that when you lose a loved one you just want to hold onto everything that was theirs. It’s a piece of them. But, in reality, sadly it is not. No stuff can replace that person. Instead, we must hold close the memories, cherished moments that are more precious than any porcelain figurine. I tell my mother over and over, “You had better clean out your house because I’m not keeping any of this crap.” I go on to say I’m just going to take a match to it. Maybe you’re not that harsh, but I at least implore you to have an estate sale. Pass it off on someone who can look at all that stuff and logically let it go without getting lost in sentimentality. Despite all the joking with my own mother, I don’t think she would want me bogged down by all her stuff. No one wants that for her loved ones. They would want you to be free, untethered.
And that’s what living simply is all about. It’s about having less stuff to tie you down. I know the RV life isn’t for everyone, but I chose this lifestyle because it gives me the most freedom. My line when I check in at a new RV park is: “No pets, no kids, no plants.” But, the biggest perk is the space, or lack thereof. I have 300 square feet of living space, so I can only buy what fits in that space. I know myself, and I know that if I give myself the space, I’ll use it, fill it. First you must know yourself, and then you must train yourself with endless Jedi mind tricks.
Ultimately, it’s about getting down to the nitty gritty need. What do I need? And, will it really bring more joy and fulfillment to my life? If not, leave it or “Let it go, let it go!”