The trouble with stuff

1 Jun

We all like to nest. To call somewhere home. To shut the doors, draw the blinds and retreat into our own world. We fill our homes with things we love – sofas, toasters, fluffy cushions, shelves of well read books, fancy cooking knives, vases filled with flowers, bedspreads – and it makes us happy. Over time, the amount of stuff we own increases. We hoard. We become sentimental. The things that once gave us pleasure, start to clutter our lives and make us feel trapped but we can’t bring ourselves to part with them.

So when the urge arises to quit your job to follow your dreams of long-term travel or working overseas, the big question is what to do with all your stuff?

We had a nice home, good jobs and a great circle of friends so what more could we possibly want, right? Wrong! Over time, the dark shadow of routine and boredom snuck up on us and we couldn’t shake the sensation that something was missing. We were on a treadmill and life kept spinning faster. Instinct told us not to rock the boat and continue with our happy lives but we craved change. Rather than 100 reasons not to do something we wanted to find that 1 reason to start saying “YES!” We knew there was more to life and after many long discussions and sleepless nights, we knew what we had to do – to jump in – with both feet – and follow our dreams to South America.

During our 6 years renting our terraced house in Norwich, Dan and I accumulated a LOT of stuff. Minimalist style was certainly not our thing. We weren’t hung up on expensive or matching items of furniture, but everything was chosen with love and represented our individual style. It was our hideaway from the grind and stress of daily life, and we liked it.

We considered paying for storage but it was really expensive and it wasn’t feasible when we wanted to spend our hard-earned cash on experiences, adventures and activities whilst travelling. So we had to let go of the possessions that burdened and chained us to just one spot.

We were able to beg, borrow and steal some loft and garage space from friends and family but we limited ourselves to a couple of boxes filled with our most dear items. Then, we gave it the hard sell. We listed our things on eBay, stuck notices up at work and displayed gear at car boot sales.

At first our hands gripped tightly around the objects that now belonged to someone else.

We wanted to shout – “Get off, that’s ours!!”

We were distraught, we felt robbed. We’d betrayed ourselves for a fistful of crumpled bank notes.

But then the strangest thing happened. The fog lifted and we saw things with a renewed sense of clarity. Our stuff was just that…stuff…and there would always be more stuff. Its sale would bring us experiences and memories to last a lifetime. And opportunities like this don’t come along every day.

Momentum increased. We boxed up things that weren’t selling and took them to charity shops. The smiles we were greeted with warmed our hearts and made us more open to giving things away. We found presents for friends. A bedside lamp became an unexpected gift and the neighbours saving for a new sofa, now had cushions to fill it.

What had started out as the traumatic act of breaking up a happy home, had become liberating. We began to feel free and the possibilities opening up to us were limitless. We no longer felt bound by the constraints society placed on us. We understood that to take steps forward, we had to re-evaluate what was important to us. Life is short and time is precious. The fear of losing our things was nothing compared to the fear of looking back at our lives and wishing we’d done things differently. So we learned to just let go and we’ve never looked back.

2 Responses to “The trouble with stuff”

  1. Craig June 1, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    Tis true my love, sacrifice in the pursuit of happiness is a worthy cause…..

  2. infused exposures June 2, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    I totally can relate to this post! When I first started packing my ‘stuff’, I found a sweater that I had had for years. I had lots of good memories associated with that sweater! I also hadn’t worn it in a very long time. So out if must go, I thought. Well, I literally cried when I put it in a big bag that I had planned on donating. I thought to myself ‘I cannot do this!!’ But then it got easier and easier! By the time I had sold my car (3 days before my departure!) I was smiling and waving goodbye as the guy who bought it drove away. It’s true, I felt free! Great post!!

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