“It makes far better sense to reshape ourselves to fit a finite planet than to attempt to reshape the planet to fit our infinite wants” -D.W. Orr (Earth in Mind)
Once I started getting rid of things I couldn’t stop. I was on a mission to own as little as possible. With no real goal in mind, I religiously purged my life of clothes that didn’t fit or suit me, unfinished projects I had no intention of completing, random things that I never use but kept ‘just in case’ and, most challenging of all: gifts and sentimental items.
The Minimalist wonderfully states, “Stuff ties us down. It weighs on the mind. It gives us back pain when we carry it around. It gets stolen, broken or obsolete, then pollutes the world as it breaks down in a landfill. Advertising tells us that stuff will make us happy and we want to believe that purchasing can solve our problems. Rarely, stuff can actually deliver the goods.”
When tangible things are no longer a gauge for happiness or success, I can focus on the experience of living. I don’t need to spend my time and energy supporting a lifestyle dependent on stuff. I can focus on relationships, health, and contentment. I can actively seek out new adventures, new skills, and self awareness. And when I don’t buy things, I don’t have to work as hard for a paycheck and my time is my own to read, reflect, cook, travel, hike, enjoy friendships…. Or work and save some money for the future–but this is a choice not a chore.
Living with less, for me, means less stuff, less technology, less commitments, and less mental clutter.
“I also have in my mind that seemingly wealthy but most terribly impoverished class of all, who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters” – Thoreau (Walden)
So, with graduation near: Job interviews? Grad school? — these things are off my radar. I’m proud that I can live below my means (however meager) and find happiness in simplicity. In the words of a new friend, I want to live “a hard-scrabble life” working odd jobs, pursing passions as they arise, and living intentionally and sustainably.
By shedding the unnecessary, I am on a journey to discover what makes me happy at the core. Only then can I truly appreciate the luxuries I choose to reintroduce into my life.
“Most men would feel insulted, if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now” – Thoreau (Life Without Principle)