There is only one time in life when one truly lets go of all their possessions. It’s when they die.
This is the time when family members come into the home of the deceased, root through all their worldly belongings, and laugh at all the rubbish they kept in the hope of alleviating the feeling of loss. No matter how hard you fight, you cannot take your belongings beyond the grave.
It’s curious how we accumulate possessions during our lifetime and why we feel that we need them. When I was a kid, I briefly met my great nanny before she passed away. When we went into her house, I still remember the random assortment of belongings that were scattered throughout her house without theme or purpose. I picked up a small metal donkey that was pulling a cart and asked if I could have it. It was completely pointless, but I wanted it. Somewhere in my parents house, that metal donkey still exists. It has jumped four generations and remains completely pointless.
The hardest thing about possessions, is not to accumulate them, but to let them go. It is part of human nature to be territorial and to take possession of objects. It’s the reason that we live in houses and buy our own food rather than sharing everything between us. Biology dictates that we want to be the strongest and to have the most. But we have evolved. We have reached a stage of evolution where being the strongest and having the most is no longer an issue. There is enough for everybody in our world if we choose to share it and by not sharing, we are only limiting our species. Individuals are now capable of accumulating so many possessions that it is hard to keep track of them or know what to do with them. We attach sentimental value to belongings and keep them, despite the fact that they no longer have a practical use.
If I looked in my cupboards a few months ago, I had painting materials, clothes, and books that would never again be used. I moved with only a backpack and left most of my possessions behind, thinking how little I was taking, wondering what I would miss. I left so much, that I can’t even remember. I don’t miss any of it. With my backpack, I visited my family, unloaded some possessions and hit the hitchhiking road. After a few weeks, I realised that I still had too much and offloaded more equipment. My bag became lighter and my life became easier. Several months later, I had even less. I didn’t have a huge amount of possessions to worry about and I didn’t miss anything that I didn’t have. I had only what I needed.
Imagine that you were to die today and people would come into to your house to clear out your belongings. Walk around your home and with a critical eye, evaluate what you really need and what is pointless. Try giving away some of the pointless belongings, safe in the knowledge that you will in fact be gaining. You will be gaining because you will have more space and less to worry about.
Every time I move home, this procedure repeats itself. Each time I find myself with less and each time I throw things away. I have started to realise how unnecessary many of our belongings really are. I keep a disk of my pictures in a safe place because they are irreplaceable and I like to carry my camera and toothbrush so I can use them at short notice. Everything else is less than essential.
Look at your possessions and ask yourself, ‘What do I have to lose?’