“You are rich if you have enough money to satisfy all your desires. So there are two ways to be rich: You earn, inherit, borrow, beg, or steal enough money to meet all your desires; or, you cultivate a simple lifestyle of few desires; that way you always have enough money.”
Dan Millman – Way of the Peaceful Warrior
I am writing this on a day of wielding a strong will. As we get closer and closer to a full time van life, I am looking to radically downsize and get rid of possessions. While in this mode, my mind wandered back to the above quotation from “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman originally published in 1980. It was somewhere towards the end of the 80s before a great friend had recommended I read this book. Not only was the book very powerful, it was this quote that has stuck with me all these years.
I cannot imagine a more succinct way to express what we are working towards – A simple lifestyle of few desires so that we don’t need so much money.
I find myself drawn towards simplicity and have so for many years; however, I have also managed to maintain a life of way too much stuff, clutter, and difficulty in letting go.
Have You Heard Of The 100-Thing Challenge?
The 100-Thing Challenge is a thought provoking read by Dave Bruno.
I think that, outside of some natural disaster taking all my possessions from me, I would find it close to impossible to get down to 100 things without making sacrifices I wouldn’t want to.
I haven’t even finished with getting rid of stuff for the day, and I already have 175 items that I have put into boxes for donation, listed for sale, or thrown away. This is all from my office space which is approximately 100 square feet. The very idea of getting down to 100 items in my office alone seems daunting. The reality that our van will probably be less than 100 square feet for both of us is pushing me to get rid of things I couldn’t just in the last year or so.
What are some of the items I previously couldn’t get rid of? Concert t-shirts from 30+ years ago that wouldn’t fit and were well worn, but they were from shows that I had such fond memories of. Children’s books that I won’t read, and we will not be having any children, so I am not sure what the point in keeping them was. Those books I have set aside to see if Pattie’s friends with children might want.
Is There Really A Correct Number Of Possessions?
I have to admit that I find the concept quite compelling, but then again, I have a difficult time understanding the “rules.” If you count a library as 1 item, then there was a time when I had a few thousand books. Now I have maybe 50, and I am constantly acquiring more as well as constantly thinning them. With books I have tried to use the Peter Walsh method – define the bookshelf space you are dedicating to books and have no more than will fit there.
I think the idea of a specific number may be very close to our current challenge of a small fixed space, it forces you to make some decisions that you likely wouldn’t otherwise.
The Bottom Line & Where Are We Headed
In scanning a number of pages after Googling “how many items are in the average american household,” it appears the answer is 300,000 and I am not even slightly surprised.
I have been trying to declutter for years with varying degrees of success and falling back into old patterns. After combining 2 homes together with my wife a few years back, we have been attempting to get rid of stuff ever since. We have thrown stuff away, given stuff away, had a few yardsales, sold stuff, and donated to thrift stores. I still constantly feel like we have far too much crap.
It will be interesting to see where we are with the process at year end as that was the goal I had set for myself at the beginning of the year, and now time is running out. Also, our van is really taking shape and we are closer to really having a feel for what will and will not work in our van.
Are your possessions serving you, or are you working for your possessions?
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