Tag Archives: Possessions

Counting the Blessings, Not the Events in My Life

15 May

I had heard that time flies, but no-one had told me that it soars. The past year has gone by with the blink of an eye. For me, it has had little form and even less structure. What have I done during the past twelve months? What has happened in the last 365 days? Looking back, the past year looks like a stretch of time marked by uncertainty, emptiness and waiting. Things have moved at a slower pace than ever before, and there are few events that have been caught on camera or written into a diary. However, when I think about the past year, I realise for the first time that it is not the quantity of memorable events that matters so much as their quality. This year has brought few notable events, but they have had a crucial role in the direction of my life’s path.

1) I graduated from university.

2) I went on a life-changing trip to India.

3) I completed a novel-writing course, which made me realise that, despite my fears, that I am capable.

4) I was offered my first ‘real’ job in a field that I love.

5) I moved to a different country.

6) I moved in with my boyfriend.

However, when I look back at the past year, these events feature only as a backdrop to that which happened on centre stage. In fact, it is my spiritual experiences and changes that played the main role during this period of time.

1) I got rid of 50% of my material possessions. In my new home, I live only with the things that I use regularly.

2) I deleted my social networking accounts. If they’re my real friends, I should be able to call them to find out about their lives. If I feel uncomfortable about picking up the phone to speak to them, I don’t need to be filling my mind with their lives. Seven months without Facebook, and I feel calmer, more confident and I know who my true friends are.

3) I took a risk. When I started job-hunting last autumn, I knew that I had two choices: I could either persevere and look for jobs in the field that I love –writing – or I could take the easier option of going into a better paid, more stable and more ‘prestigious’ career. Parents considered The City or the EU as a good destination for me, but I knew that if I didn’t take the chance to try my luck in writing, I would never again have the opportunity to do so. Three months later, I was offered a job as an online content editor.

4) I made a dream come true. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of working in a cute little bookshop, where I would be able to pass on my love for literature to others. In the autumn, I was hired for a week-end shift at a new independent bookshop in my area. I only worked there for four months, but the experience was unforgettable. I was blessed with kind, knowledgeable and good-humoured colleagues, with friendly clients and with a brilliant stock of books to enjoy.

5) I chose love over fear.  What if I don’t like it? What if it doesn’t work out? What if he changes his mind? What if we get bored? A million doubts filling my mind before moving to a new country and moving in with my boyfriend. Four months after my move, this new life feels like second nature.

6) I was honest with myself. Young women my age are going to parties, filling their days with countless activities, following fashion, spending, seducing, networking…I tried, but never found fulfilment in any of these activities. I finally admitted to myself that I would prefer to spend Friday night watching the sunset from a hill, spend the afternoon riding a bike, spend evenings doing yoga, spend the week-ends doing photography, and spend my money on dance class, art exhibitions or fresh local food from the market. By being honest with myself, I have found a more natural way of life.

This year, I may not have had many events to talk about, but I have had many ideas and feelings to share. I think I am finally starting to learn how to count the blessings, and not the events in my life…

The Art of the Essential, Part II

12 Apr

For the past two months, I have been living with only a suitcase-worth of possessions. Three pairs of shoes, three pairs of trousers, a dozen tops, two jackets, three novels, two poetry books, a make-up bag, a laptop and a couple of notebooks. For the past two months I have been experiencing the art of the essential.

Living with fewer possessions has had some amazing effects on my life:

I have saved time: having a limited amount of clothes to choose from, I did not spend hours trying out different outfits for one outing.

I have been tidier: fewer things means less mess.

I have had more space: seeing as my possessions fit in one wardrobe and one cupboard, the rest of the space is free, for movement, for dance, for yoga…

I have had a lot of light in the apartment: fewer things means more open space, which means more light.

I have been calmer: in my previous home, I had around forty unread books and a wardrobe of unworn clothes. I would feel guilty about not reading the books and not wearing the clothes on which I had spent money. Now, seeing as I make use of everything in my possession, I do not experience a feeling of waste, greed or stress. Instead, I have a feeling of comfort and simplicity.

I have had more time to do the things I love: I spend less time tidying up and no time at all sorting my things out, which gives me more time to do things that I enjoy.

I have had more opportunities to be creative: rather than obsessing over the world inside my apartment, my thoughts open up to the world beyond my walls.

I have focused on the things I do, rather than on the things I own: in modern society, it is most often our possessions and not our actions that define us. Having little possessions, I have been able to concentrate more on defining myself through what I do, rather than through what I own.

I have seen others differently: now that I define myself through what I do, I also define other people by their actions, instead of their clothes, gadgets, cars, or accessories. This has given me a whole new vision of the world.

Living with fewer possessions has many positive effects on our lives. It does not mean that we should deprive ourselves, but that we should simply reduce our possessions to the essentials: what we need and what we love. Everything else has no place in our home, our mind and our body; everything else brings us negative energy.

April is a perfect time to do a spring clean, so why not take this opportunity to clear that clutter that blocks your energy?

A great book on this subject is Clear Your Clutter, which explains the negative energetic and psychological effects of hoarding and the positive ones of clearing.

The Art of the Essential

13 Jan

“Are you rich?”
“I have everything. I no longer even have possessions.”
~ Malcolm de Chazal

A few months ago, I met a guy in Paris whose only possessions were the ones he could fit into his rucksack. Ever since reading L’Art de l’Essentiel (The Art of the Essential) by Dominique Loreau, I have been trying to achieve a similar sort of thing.

In her book, Loreau outlines the Feng Shui principles of space clearing that bring peace into our lives. Excess or unnecessary possessions can have a negative effect on our energy, slowing us down, making us depressed or lethargic, and eventually making our possessions become the owners of our lives.

Just before the new year, I managed to clear my shed of eleven years’ worth of junk. Clothes, books, films, music, jewellery, stationery, a bike (that I rode once, six years ago), roller blades, a tent (that I borrowed from someone five years ago), and other similar things. Friends came and took what they liked, and the rest went to charity. I followed Dominique Loreau’s basic principle: if you don’t need it or you don’t love it, let it go. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t experience any remarkable feelings of loss or regret when I parted with these things.

It was a different thing, however, when I started going through my university folders. Ninety-five percent of four years of work went into the recycling bin. Four years’ worth of lectures, homework, assignments, essays, notes, photocopies and research proved to no longer be of any worth to me. When I’d finished my first round of recycling I sat back in horror… “What was my education for if only months after finishing it, I am already throwing it away?!”. I remembered my endless battles with philosophy (one of my BA subjects) and how I thought about giving it up a few months into my first term at uni. But I didn’t, because I thought it would be ‘good for me’ in the long-run.

Sitting amongst all the philosophy papers that I was about to trash, I decided then and there never to do anything with the hope that it will be ‘good for’ or ‘useful to’ my future self. I realised that we can never guess what we will want or need in the future, so the best we can do is to make the most of the present – that way, our best possible future will unfold naturally. If we hold on to objects that we don’t use now, we ruin our present by being tied to things that have no relevance to the life we would actually like to lead. If we spend our time doing things we don’t enjoy, believing that they will be ‘useful’ for our future selves, we will end up losing opportunities to do the things we genuinely love.

Living with only the essential brings freedom and peace to our lives. We are defined by who we are and what we do, rather than by what we own. When we learn to effortlessly let go of material things, we find it easier to let go of situations, places and people.  Happiness does not lie in the things we own, but in the things we give.

 On the same topic: Art of the Essential Part IIArt of the Essential Part III