We’ve all heard or read about those people who have had brushes with death or disaster then claim ‘nothing really matters except … a) the people you love b) family c) living in the present d) the money I’m getting from this interview. But then those people go onto live the rest of their lives with no real substantial changes, except maybe increasing the frequency of ‘I love yours’ or not flying with anyone called Sully.
Since I turned 40 I’ve not been in any disasters or had any close shaves (excepting my dating life), but last year I reached a similar conclusion. Nothing really matters. Actually no-thing. People matter. Experiences matter. But no things actually matter. And this realization caused me to suddenly feel suffocated by my carefully constructed,tastefully arranged, credit card financed Room and Board landscape.
So I got rid of it all.
10 years of furniture, rugs, frames, chairs, tables, bikes, crap I didn’t need, stuff I didn’t like but thought I needed.
It – the stuff – was mattering more than anything else. The search for the perfect chair, bed linens for the spare room, an ottoman for the library chair. I was working to pay off the things that I thought that I needed. And in the midst of my debt, looking for new things to replace the things that were slowly ceasing to please me. The things were my everything. In lieu of people, I was finding comfort in things, pleasure in things. Until I was defining myself by my things.
How did I get this far from who I am? I’ve always been a person defined by my actions. What I did (who I did?), or what I have done. And through fear, apathy, introversion, lack of funds (all those things are expensive), I stopped doing and started buying. At the age of 40 I found myself in debt, lying awake at night trying to find the money for the next thing and wondering when I last had fun.
So now I am without things. Not, I’m not living in a padded cell or on the street, eating out of a can or eschewing clothing but I these days I don’t have much except somewhere to sleep, somewhere to sit, somewhere to work and some things to play with (no, not crayons.. grown up toys). I have enough seating in my apartment for a cozy night with friends or a game of Jenga on the floor. I can watch movies and cook a decent meal. Listen to jazz, take a long bath or sit on the balcony. But you’ll be eating off your knees and my house probably eliminates any agoraphobics from my circle.
It sounds very Tyler Durden but without the stuff, it feels free-er. Lighter. I have less to worry about, less to clean and less to get in the way of a good game of ball throwing with the dog. I have time and funds to get on my motorcycle, on a plane to visit friends, to plan an adventure. Sure, its not for everyone and I’m sure my friends/ family are horrified, but I like it. No, I love it. Maybe with less things in the way, I can get back to the no-things that do matter.
However if I start making soap, someone call the medics.