My traveler’s blues had followed me all the way to the woods of Finland. It made me realize that if we were to fully enjoy traveling again something needed fixing. But what?
Some soul-searching and a little help from the Minimalists showed us the way forward.
Minimalism to the rescue!
At home I stumbled upon a Ted speech by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Field Milburns. These guys refer to themselves as the Minimalists and message resonated with me: “living a more meaningful life with less”. After reading Joshua’s excellent essays I knew I was on to something. It was time to get our priorities straight!
The Minimalists’ books can be purchased on Amazon – to those nitpickers who take Minimalism literally: yes, they also come in digital format.
Minimalism: a documentary about the important things is available on Netflix and on Vimeo. I urge you to check it out… These guys make so much sense!
Less is more?
How could I have been so blind? The answer to my traveler’s blues had been staring me in the face for years.
If we are happiest and most carefree when our possessions fit in a single suitcase or backpack…
Why do we keep cramming our houses full of stuff?
We noticed this over and over again. From Bali to Peru: people who had less stuff to take care of not only had their priorities straight, they carried smiles on their faces!
If we wanted life at home to feel more like life abroad we had to rethink our way of life, completely.
Sofie and I realized we could no longer ignore this issue by traveling (which was kind of like running away). No matter how we were looking forward to see more of the world, we had to straighten things out at home first.
And boy, there was a lot of straightening out to do.
It’s all grandpa’s fault!
I consider myself fortunate for having a grandmother and Philly the Brave who took me in after my parents’ divorce. They raising me to the best of their abilities. That said, it doesn’t keep me from blaming them for making me a hoarder… 🙂
I’m sure they would agree. Both my grandfather and grandmother were born around the second World War. Back then people had nothing and had to rebuild everything. As a consequence they clung to every possession as if their lives depended on it.
Their creed: “Never throw anything away, you never know when it might come in handy.”
We all remember our grandparents’ homes:
- mantlepieces full of trinkets
- boxes with old photos bursting at the seams
- (spare) wardrobes full of old clothes
- garages full of tools
I grew up in that environment so it goes without saying I started collecting stuff too.
Rather than trying out new experiences or taking risks in life, I was most at comfortable and happy completing my collections: working my way through comics to read, movies to see, games to play, music to collect. You could say that for a major part of my life these collections defined me as a person. That generation also has a habit of putting their most precious possession on display. So did I.
Precious or rubbish, Sofie and I seldom got rid of anything… because:
“Never throw anything away, you never know when it might come in handy.”
Enter the millennials
These past few years we got to spend some time in the company of Millennials, the generation born in or after 1984. While I’m still convinced that a YOLO-mindset (“You only live once”) will not get you very far in life, there’s definitely a thing or two we can learn from Generation Y:
“Experiences are more valuable than stuff.”
I would not mind swapping my old creed for this one!
No more collecting of movies and cd’s… but (travel) experiences!
If we wanted life at home to feel more like life abroad we had to rethink our way of life, completely. My first reflex was second-guessing our house. Would selling it make it easier for us to travel? Would that offer us the flexibility I so craved?
Stay tuned as we consider downscaling to an apartment…