Stuff! We all have it! The thing is that it means different things to different people. Some people think that we are nothing more than what stuff we’ve accumulated.
Have you ever been to soeone’s house that looks like a museum? Shelves upon shelves of little crystal figurines, and nice china, and walls of DVDs, and shelves full of books, and tons of walk-in closets, etc… ?
I wonder if they actually enjoy their stuff. I wonder if they eat on that fine china… I wonder if they watch every movie.. I wonder if they read all their books.
You see, I have a lot of stuff too. We all do! But, do we actually use it after the first few weeks? It’s a shiny object, and my marketer friends probably made the ad that made you want it…. but after you spent your money, or were gifted it, you probably got bored with it. Clearly, there’s exceptions– computers, cell phones, televisions, but even those gather dust after we find a shiny new model. The Ipod got replaced by the Ipod Nano, which got replaced by the Iphone / Touch – which got replaced by the Iphone 3G, which got replaced by the Iphone 3GS.
What’s my point? I just realized that a lot of my stuff I have because people think I should have it. What do I mean? I guess I should tell you my big plans first.
(If you’re in a hurry, just scroll to the video at the bottom)
I’m going to Austin, Texas. I want to make it my headquarters. Why Austin? I’ve never been there before this year.
In a very short time I met a ton of amazing people. Many funny, laid back individuals, and many entrepreneurialy minded individuals. I’m a workaholic, so I enjoy those people. I even have awesome clients there like Tito’s Vodka and Perry Belcher. It’s the only city that I know of that had a homeless transvestite run for mayor, and take 3rd place! Their slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” – what’s not to like about a place like that? Oh yeah… the BBQ is damn good too!
Now let’s rewind to Atlanta. I have a place that I bought in 2007. It’s beautiful, near everything, but feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, as it is in the middle of a national park.
I have a bunch of stuff there from when I was living there for a portion of 2008. I tried to rent it out in 2007, and that’s how I met Angela… Boy, do I have a lot of incredible stories and memories from her., and it all began with her wanting to rent my place. But my place was never rented out, and I moved my stuff there- an awesome bed, lots of clothes, bookshelves books, magazines, dishes, appliances, a tv or 2, some couches, etc..
I didn’t rent it out when I got back on the road. I made excuses:
“I don’t want to put my stuff in storage. I finally got it where I want it”
“I don’t want people messing with my stuff”
*sigh* reminds me of Fight Club, when Ed Norton talks about how he was finally complete. He finally had the perfect collection of stuff…. Well.. here’s some great quotes from Fight Club:
- “The things you own end up owning you”
- “I say never be complete, I say never be perfect”
- “It’s only after you’ve lost everything, that you’re free to do anything”
- “We are consumers”
- “Look, nobody takes this more seriously than me. That condo was my life, okay? I loved every stick of furniture in that place. That was not just a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, it was ME!”
Clearly, I’m being selective in my quotes from Fight Club… it’s like reports in the news (*yawn*) — research can be done to prove anything… depends who funded the research, ya know? I’m sure my older brother can tell you why having an organized home is the best thing in the world, but I agree with Tyler Durden– the stuff you own ends up owning you.
My journeys have been slightly hampered because I’m concerned about my place. I gotta deal with my neighbor and his sister coming in here and stealing my shelves, using my balcony as their storage shed / wood shop. I get to check my voicemail after Burning Man (’07) and have a message that my downstairs neighbor has been flooded due to a burst pipe (Which thankfully was able to be fixed from her ceiling, rather than my floor). I think about my stuff.
Tim Ferriss talks about stuff in his amazing book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (I HIGHLY recommend this book by the way! VERY Highly!). Get rid of your stuff, show up at a new place with just enough clothes to last you the week, and get new stuff there if you need it. Sell your car. Stop renting your apartment. Give away, or loan away your stuff. The amount you pay for rent, insurance, utilities, and gas right now is enough for you to live like royalty in some other countries.
An awesome traveler that I discovered thanks to my awesome readers (Thanks Heidi) is Colin Wright. Colin is a digital nomad like me, but unlike me, he hits a different country every four months! I could get used to that idea. In this awesome blog post, he talks about how he stripped his belongings to 72 items.
So, I’m renting out my place. I got this realtor (who is so amazingly beautiful- but I didn’t find that out till she got here… in case you were thinking that I would hire someone based on that. Though… I suppose that could help get people to part with their money), who’ll be showing my place. I want to have my place available to show by the 16th- which is my birthday. I want to be in Austin on my birthday. Lots of amazing people that I’d really enjoy celebrating with.
In order to show my place, I need to have it empty. Right now, it is not. I just sold my most amazingly comfortable couches (it’s only appropriate that CouchSurfingOri would have the best couches- though I do have to credit Angela for finding them) for $400, and my 55″ Sony Grand Wega for $400, and my Epson R1800 Printer for $300 (It was going to be $400, but it was for a good friend’s birthday). Sweet– gas money for the trip to Austin. I still have a bed, a nice L-shaped glass table, and the most comfortable and expensive office chair I’ve ever bought ($350– it’s got all this memory foam… I spend 20 hours a day in it sometimes, with no problem), bedding, dishes, appliances, magazines, marketing newsletters, and more…
I was on the phone with my parents the other night, and mom wanted to know what I’m doing with that stuff. *shrug* Guess I’m leaving it behind, donating it, throwing it away, or leaving it with the condo.
Mom was shocked, “But that’s a fortune worth of stuff! The bed is like $800, the bedding cost a bunch, all those clothes, all those dishes…. Why don’t you put the bed in that storage closet?”
I explained to her that it’s just stuff. It’s holding me from traveling. I don’t want to store any of it. I’ll take with me what I can fit in my car, and nothing else. I clearly don’t care about my stuff that much, as I haven’t been back to visit it very often.
When I am here, I don’t really use my stuff (except my awesome office chair, and my bed). I can get new stuff. What’s important to me is my computer and camera. Other than that, IU can live out of a car if I need. But, it’s not about having or not having stuff…
I realized that a lot of the stuff that I have, I have because people thought I should. I have in Florida some incredibly gorgeous drapes. They are this reflective green material that breaks up light into these beautiful refractions. When people came over, they always commented on it. Yeah.. that made me feel kind of nice, but I didn’t really care. They were a birthday present from my family, with my older brother heading up the effort.
It took many hours of searching many stores to find the right material, to find the right look, measure the stuff, install it, etc… If my family wasn’t encouraging me to do it, I wouldn’t have drapes. And now they are in storage… $1,000 of beautiful fabric, just sitting there in a big tupperware container. All that effort of finding the right drapes… sitting in storage.
Do I miss them? Do I wish I had those lovely drapes here in Atlanta? No! Hell no! I don’t think about them one bit (except of course to tell you about “stuff”). I’m not into Feng Shui, and I’m not into stuff. I have a lot of it, and I’m even a pack rat. But, it’s all going away now.
I started telling my friend Craig about it, and this video really sumarizes my thoughts. (final thoughts written below video)
To summarize- I am getting rid of all my stuff by next Tuesday. Some I’m giving away. Some I’m selling. Some I’m leaving. It’s just stuff. I don’t need it. I may get a storage unit sometime in the future… or more likely, leave some stuff at someone’s house. My big goal is to travel the world.
There’s so much amazing stuff out there! Active volcanoes, tribes that don’t have cell phones, and still survive by gathering berries! Giant fjords (not to be confused with cjhevies)! Cliffs to jump off of, animals to photograph, cultures to experience.
In the United States, a majority of people have not left the country. Many have not left their state, and I’ve even heard of people that have not left their city or town (I’m not joking for once). You learn about yourself and the world when you travel. You meet amazing people, and you grow.
I’m from Israel for those who don’t know. I’ve had to travel to get here to the USA, and I’ve had to deal with it… learn that other language and culture. I’ve traveled all over the USA, and I’ve met people that I never dreamt I would. I’ve had experiences that are not in the tourist guides, and THAT is the “STUFF” that I keep– my experiences. My experiences are the accumulation of stuff that I let define me. They are what I collect via memories, blog, journal, videos, and photos.
They are stuff that I cand share, and it only gets better, rather than chipped, broken, or dusty (sorry fans of fancy china). I’m told by many how I inspire them, and I’m grateful for that…. but I’m just chasing my dream. It’s fuzzy like a dream– I know I want to visit more countries (and my passport just got renewed!), experience what’s out there, and help as many people along the way as I can. It is because of THAT that I’ve met so many amazing people, and likeminded people… not because of stuff that I own.
Goodbye stuff! Hello adventure!
Take inventory of your stuff- how much of it do you have because you really want it? Do you want it or need it still, or is it the human fear of loss that’s making you take up valueable space with it? You can probably sell a ton of it, or give it away to make someone’s day/year. Maybe you need to get rid of it all, and go on a nice self-discovery trip?