While traveling, I am constantly learning new things while old lessons are being reinforced. One that I’ve been thinking about recently is that less is often more. The concept is simple enough. However, living in one place, with a stable home place stuff somehow seems to pile up. We hear the voice of materialistic, consumerist society: if I buy this then everything will be just right. Of course, I hear these voices too. Stuff is fun, I like pretty clothes, don’t get me started on shoes, and I feel that the way we dress is also an expression of who we are, to some extent. And for some it can even be an art form.
But when you must carry everything that you have with you wherever you may go, your relationship to stuff instantly shifts. Your stuff no longer exists in the abstract, sitting forgotten at the bottom of a dresser drawer; it is a physical, real weight that you carry with you. You begin to realize that having stuff is hard. Once you have stuff, there is also the question of worrying about it, thinking about what you’ve left at the hotel. Is it safe? Once you have something, you can lose it or it can get stolen. It can limit you in many ways. Maybe you realize, if I had less stuff, I could do more. Possibilities open. You can be more mobile, freed of the extra weight.
Our capitalist society has taught us that stuff is the answer to our dreams, to our sadness, to our desires. Buying stuff is presented as the way to exercise power, citizenship, or put success on showcase. And sometimes we hold onto things because we think that our memories live there, as if physical objects embody past times or places. So, sometimes we clutch at these objects for a sense of security, all the meantime wondering when we will feel at peace.
Balance is elusive, but there are fleeting moments of lightness. I find myself in the present, self-contained and free.