My husband and I moved across the world in 4 suitcases. 2 each, with a carry-on bag and backpack. Everything I use, wear, or look at on a daily basis, can fit within the contents of my luggage. Everything from khaki pants to kitchen pots, I can pack it all up within one hour.
I didn’t always live this way. Before we moved abroad, I had a hard time deciding what I would bring. Admittedly, I cried about it once or twice. Leaving behind all of my kitchen mugs felt like giving a puppy up for adoption. I hated it. My coffee mugs made me smile. Not only because they served as my caffeine delivery vehicle, but these mugs held stories, each one of them. I could recall the person who bought it for me, or the woman who drank from it while crying in my living room. They held seasons and stories, these ceramic vessels. I tried convincing my husband that mugs were indeed, worthy of taking up my precious cargo space. I ended up bringing two.
Why mugs? I’ve asked myself the question, too. My morning routine (now) includes a steaming matcha latte. It accompanies my writing, reading, and meditation. I center into the present moment and the cup warms my hands with a hug. This is my space where I come into joy and presence. Its an experience.
We meet friends in cafes and share stories around big mugs of tea. We drink slow and soak in the goodness of one another. It’s a social gathering, a place to draw near. It’s an experience.
Hot beverages are an experience. Perhaps why my mugs aren’t just things to me, they foster experience. I started thinking, shouldn’t all of my “things” feel this way? Why own anything at all, if I don’t use it, or actively experience it?
Minimalism is a trendy word these days. Waves of people are stepping back from blind consumerism, in an effort to claim a more balanced way of living. There are TV shows documenting people moving into tiny houses, fitting whatever they can into 200 square-feet of space. There is a desire bubbling, a movement even, of people who want to have less and experience more.
I too, find it to be an appealing way to live. Historically, I love a good closet purge. I might even be too zealous when it comes to purging things I have little use for. I’ve never been sentimental when it comes to possessions (except for mugs.) And even though I love to clear clutter, I still found myself accumulating stuff. I always “needed” whatever was adorable in the Target dollar section. Which, let’s be serious, is everything. I was a sucker for sales, regardless of whether I actually needed another cotton t-shirt. It was THREE DOLLARS for crying out loud.
Then we started packing to move. I had to evaluate each item for its worth and meaning. Clothing was easy to pair down. Though, choosing between all of my yoga leggings did feel a bit like choosing a favorite child. Then the mugs. I selected two that were handmade by potters I knew. They were form and function, experience and story. I selected a few glass jars I loved to look at. I rationalized, they could be used a variety of ways; kitchen storage, blooming buds or housing desk-top pens. Form and function.
I noticed a pattern in the items I selected. I loved them for the way they looked, and the purpose they served. Not a single thing existed just to occupy space in my life.
Perhaps, I finally let go of my desire to acquire.
We have this way of filling the spaces in our lives. We fill silence with words, houses with stuff, and hearts with clutter. We fill the space and hold on tight – to things, places, and people. We pack everything in, leaving no breathing room around the edges.
But what if we made space, and then let it be? What if we swept the caverns of our heart and soul, and left some holy, empty space? A place where there is room to breathe into and out of things and seasons and people. Room to receive and to let go. Open heart, open hands.
Because if we leave some room around the edges, and leave hope for bigger possibilities, who knows what unspeakable joy might enter in?
living with less,