“A simple life is a happy life.” It sounds like a good idea, but most of us like our stuff. What if we separated ourselves from our possessions long enough not to care about them anymore?
I’ve always been drawn to Buddhist wisdom, except for one tiny
central tenet: non-attachment. Buddhists believe that remaining unattached – to things, places, people – is the path to spiritual enlightenment and ultimate happiness. Well, sure, attachments can cause unhappiness, but they’re often a great source of joy as well. I just don’t buy the idea that I can lead a full and happy life with no attachments at all, especially to people. That’s just silly (in my humble opinion).
But as I sit here in my almost-empty New York City apartment, after a three-month journey during which I carried only a small suitcase and a shoulder bag…no longer a New York City resident, but not yet a Seattle resident…I can vouch for the calm of being unattached to possessions if not to people and places.
When I showed up in my apartment the other night, I posted this on Facebook: “Definition of surreal: Walking into an apartment that you haven’t laid eyes on in almost three months, one that is no longer home but sorta feels like home ’cause all your stuff is there…except that you haven’t really needed or even missed the stuff ’cause everything you really need is in the tiny suitcase you just rolled in behind you.” I’ve spent the past two days perplexed by the task of getting dressed when I suddenly have more options than the three pairs of pants, five shirts, one dress, and two pairs of shoes (okay, maybe it was four pairs…) I brought on my trip.
Warning: Cleaning out your closets after living quite comfortably with very little may result in an explosion of massively large garbage bags full of stuff marked for donation.
Just to be clear: I’m not giving away all of my worldly possessions to go live in a Tibetan monastery or anything. I like my stuff. I did miss a few things: my kitchen, my bed, my comfy sweatpants, my Stuart Weitzman black patent leather heels (I lived in NYC for 12 years…give me a break), my boots, my ridiculously-expensive-but-so-worth-it-hairdryer. But I didn’t miss them that much. I even threw the sweatpants in the donation pile (it was time).
I guess I’m not as attached to stuff as I thought.
Put something in a holiday donation bin this week. You probably won’t miss it. You may even feel lighter…and someone on the receiving end will be grateful for your non-attachment.
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