Letting Go Is The Hardest Part
When I was traveling through Thailand in February I saw many other backpackers. On my way to the mountains I hopped on a tiny bus with very limited storage. I saw a man in line with a bag on his back the size of a squat 8 year old child, and he had another bag the size of a toddler on his front. I could only imagine what could have been so important to be willing to haul them around buses and ferries and planes. It seems like the backpacker has become a person who will carry as much as they possibly can on their back.
In my small Minaal bag (seen above) I had everything I needed and then some. And no, I wasn’t just wearing leggings the whole time. I had outfits relevant for all occasions, an accessory or two, warm clothes, a bathing suit, laptop, camera, Kindle, sketchpad, and toiletries. I did laundry a few times. I bought soap when I needed it. And that was it. I hopped on and off buses, ferries, and planes with ease. I never had to leave my belongings unattended. Nothing had to be checked. Life is simpler with less.
Giving yourself the opportunity to go without will show you that letting go is the hardest part. Most of us don’t actually wear all of the things we have, and when they’re finally gone we don’t really miss them. I don’t think there is anything I have ever gotten rid of that I longed for back. We hold on to our possessions for all of those “what if” occasions. This type of clinging drains our energy, and it points to the deeper truth that we’re resisting letting go and moving on.
Our relationship to our things is a reflection of our relationship to self. When we can’t easily let go of belongings that hold no true meaning to us it’s a sign to begin to look deeper. It indicates that there’s a lack of trust in life. What is the fear of letting go really about? Maybe we don’t believe something better will come along or that when we’re in need we’ll be taken care of.
So I challenge you to use your belongings as a way to begin to relieve stuck energy from your being. One way to look at this is to see that when we give up things that are no longer serving us, we can pass them off to someone who will find love and use for them. This is pretty easy to rationalize, right? Give something you don’t use to someone who would use it. It cultivates generosity.
Another way to think about this is to notice that the things we hold on to that we don’t use or love are, in fact, draining our energy. Materials have become so inexpensive that we’ve created an addiction to accumulating things, and these things are not what actually make us happy. I’d argue that these things contribute to our anxiety. We have more things to keep organized, it’s easier for our homes to be in disarray, we have more choices when getting dressed, and our attention is now being spent on cleaning up, arranging, and choosing until we’re exhausted. An article of clothing was designed to be worn, not sit in a closet collecting dust. A book was meant to be read and circulated, not hoarded on a shelf. So give them freedom and purpose. Move on. There will be more things for us to love (Although I’m not sure the “things” are the things we should be focusing our love on). There’s no need to cling to what we’re clearly not using.
Living with less has allowed me to focus on the things that are more important. I feel lighter when my space is clean, organized, and belongings utilized. I have chosen to pay attention to the areas that are sucking my energy because I want my attention to be on the beauty of life. I want to have energy to appreciate sunsets, support my friends, and be of service to the world. I want to come home to a place that feels clean and unchaotic. I want my environment and my belongings to reflect my internal state: peaceful and at ease.
This isn’t about rejecting fashion or design, both of which I find value in. It’s about seeing what is holding us back so we can live happier, more fulfilling lives. I want to spend my time seeing the world and engaging with people. I want to laugh and have delightful conversation. I want to ask big questions and take big leaps. These are the places I want to spend my energy.
When we learn to let go of our things we learn how to be more free. We learn how to live a life that puts the important things first. We choose a relationship to life that is one of abundance. There is a recognition that we will be taken care of. Everything will be alright. We’re at peace. And this is the choice we get to make each moment. Go take a look in your closet. Reflect on your life. What are you choosing?