The Buddhists have always described a process of emptying one’s self of all desires, wants, ego, pride, lust. This has always seemed so depressing and…well, dare I say it? Pointless.
Well, a few months ago I started a radical purging of my life. This was sparked by an article in the NY Times on a woman who responded to a challenge of living with just 100 things. This is in a country that worships Walmart! The idea electrified me! What a concept! To really choose what belongs in and also out of my life. Delving deeper, I found the article in Time magazine describing the 100 things challenge and the guy who started this, Dave Bruno.
When my wife and I backpacked around India in the mid 90’s, we packed the most basic of possessions- 2 outfits to wear each, toothbrush and paste, a journal, a book, a camera, a first aid kit, sandals on our feet and a sun hat. We budgeted for $15/day for our entire trip. This would allow me to sometimes have an ice cold tall Kingfisher beer (just one) at the end of the day as it was about $1, a rather large portion of the daily budget which included lodging, food and travel. Even with the most basics or perhaps because of the simplicity, we always remember this trip as the best of our lives.
So a few months ago, I started selling a bunch of my stuff beginning with the big items that were already making it difficult to move around my small apartment. An electric bass that though was in excellent condition, I had hardly played in the 10 years I’ve owned it. I sold a lot of recording equipment which I wasn’t using much either. I gave away extra pots and pans. Old computer equipment donated to my sister and even just put on the curb – they were gone within a few hours.
Books have long been a store of emotional baggage.
“How could I let this one go when I loved these words so dearly?”
But as I started selling, giving away, purging, donating, a strange thing happened. I was feeling a natural rise in joy. Sometimes it was almost giddiness for no apparent reason. Other times, just basking in the newfound realization of understanding what’s really important in my life.
I also benefited in that I feel like I have a larger living space now having cleared it of so much clutter. It’s not finished yet, but I feel like I’m onto something. Perhaps I couldn’t comprehend the emptiness when I was so full?
So I dont’ really have a list of stuff yet, but I’m going through the piles and simplifying. And each time I lighten my load, ping! I get a rise in joy.
I’ll start posting my list soon.