Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I don't need what I have

I've just finished reading The Man Who Quit Money (by Mark Sudeen) which describes the journey of a man who saw how money, possessions and materialism were a burden. He now lives in a cave, dumpster diving and finding ways to survive without begging, but also without holding a job or relying on government welfare. I'm not there yet - and probably never will be, mom, so don't worry - but it made me look back and realize 3 key points in my life that caused me to stop and think: I don't need what I have.

Many of us can relate to this one. Each time you move, you look through your heaps of possessions: old college textbooks, trinkets that sit on your shelf and take up room, clothes overflowing out of every drawer, power tools you've used once, and relentless piles, closets, and garages stuffed to the brink. With every move, I skim down a little more yet still stubbornly hold onto things I haven't used for years. I've furnished a house and everything that comes with that, now sitting back in Colorado mostly being unused. I've had friends ask (as I wander around the country) if I've considered putting things into storage? Here's the deal: if you pay to store your stuff, you have too much. By the time you get it out, it's going to be outdated, damaged, and you've probably forgotten what you even have in that tin room an already bought another one . Plus, if you've lived without it for years already, you can live without it forever. Take the tax write off and donate it, or sell it on Craigslist. 

Waldo Canyon Fire Evacuation
Spoiler alert: I didn't loose my home or any possessions in the fire (although sometimes I think it would have been an easy, clean start to lose it all). However, I was evacuated during the fire. I went from watching it on the news to being told I needed to evacuate immediately. I scurried around the house with my video camera in hand, trying to quickly capture my possessions on film for the insurance company. As I went through each room, skimming past my mounds of stuff, I suddenly stopped and thought: there is nothing here that is so important to me I can't live without it. Sure, there are memories and expensive toys, but nothing that really mattered. With that realization, I was on a different mission to only grab things that would be a pain in the ass to replace like my passport, laptop with important files, and social security card. I barely filled half of my Mazda 6 (R.I.P Mazda - it was totaled in May 2014) with some basics that I could survive on. It was a long emotional day, not to mention the fact I went to a friends house upon being evacuated and an hour later was evacuated from there as well. He was gone (actually fighting the fire), so now I had the task of trying to figure out what HE would want and packed up random items from his house only to drive further east to another friend's home where I lived for 4 days. The best moment of that crazy day filled with moving my stuff all around the city, was when my friend came back safely from fighting the fires, not all the stuff I have "saved" from burning. My most vivid memory of that day was watching him walk up the driveway, covered in soot and smelling like campfire. I went outside and gave him a huge hug, telling him how glad I was he was home safely.

Living in Seattle
I still haven't decided if this is a temporary or permanent move, but when I had the opportunity to live in Seattle for 3 months in an apartment in Capitol Hill, I jumped on it. Again, rifling through stacks of meaningless clutter, I filled about half of my silver Mazda 3 with basics that I needed to live for 3 months. I'm living just fine with a suitcase full of clothes, a few kitchen utensils, and basic hygiene products (you're welcome Seattle). 
You have to understand too I'm somewhat of a pack rat and my mindset is typically "I could use this sometime, I just don't know when, so I'll hang onto it" but my mindset changed with each of these experiences. Sure, there are things I miss in Colorado like my piano and guitar, my bike (which i would have brought if I could have), and my printer. I learned to make sacrifices instead, perhaps a little less convenient, like walking to FedEx/Kinko's to print my resume instead of printing it in my living room. 

Overall, it's the realization that the things I miss most are not things at all - the things that are most important are people who I left behind. I've had to change my focus and realize no matter where I end up, the less selfish I can be and the more I concentrate on relationships, loving others, and connecting to them will result in more happiness than I could ever gain from sitting around my house with my stuff. It's a general apology and a commitment to changing my priorities, so prepare yourselves. If my possessions help someone else, I'm ready to give, donate, and provide to others without limits. What "thing" could possibly be more important than people? If the things you're holding onto can be a tool to help you show love, connect with and bless others then why do you still have them?

Thanks for listening to my deep thoughts - if you want some lighter humor you can check out some of my old blogs of other life lessons, which may inspire a laugh today:


Chicapage said...

Well said Toby!

Toby Lorenc said...

Thanks Chicapage! :) It's a journey. Feel free to challenge my ideas!

Unseen Warrior said...
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