I have been in the process of downsizing, in earnest, for about a year now. I have been making stabbing attempts at minimalism for over 7 years now. I have always yo-yoed between purging and refilling. I have come at it from many angles. Yogic ascetism, Montessori inspired spaces, obsessively watching YouTube videos of tiny houses and alternative lifestyles (this is pretty fun and I kinda recommend it?), Frugality books, Financial Independence books and prophets, decluttering mom websites, you name it, I've tried it all. All of it in the pursuit of "less but better," (Essentialism https://amzn.to/2KKw6ky).
And I want to. I really want to get rid of the stuff. I gave away my wedding dress, I gave away the quilt my grandmother made me, and I sold my car yesterday. All things that I love and even in this moment are bringing up REALLY big feelings that are spilling out of my eyes just a little bit...These things...things that I have made the idols of my dreams. My wedding dress = my hope for my marriage, my quilt = my childhood and all the pain and happiness within it, my car = my status or proof that I am moving up and haven't squandered the years...
It is easy to watch the shows about decluttering or downsizing and judge these people who simply need to "let go and move on." It is another thing when it is YOUR childhood or YOUR dreams for the future. It hurts. The severing of the cord is not always clean. There is residual stuff to work out and examine.
I still advocate for letting go of the things. I still advocate for daring to walk into the unknown abyss and free fall through the madness that everyone will surely think you've gone into. I still advocate for bucking the status quo and being the weirdo you were always meant to be. I can't wait to meet you out here on this wild ride we are all on. I can't wait to talk to you about your fears, and your memories and how it felt when you said goodbye to this or that. Because that is why I am doing it. That is why I am letting these "things" go. I want to actually connect. I want to get out of my four-walled, self-imposed prison and see the world. I know it's out there. I see it on TV and hear about it in the books I read. But I stay inside because I am afraid. And the pain I felt when I held that quilt to my chest and took one last deep chest-full of it's aged promises and released it into the giveaway box, is nothing compared to the deep regret I will feel if I don't go see the grand canyon with my kids. I can't keep going to the same 5 parks over and over with them and call it living. Everyday I have to think about how I'm going to get them outside and socialize them and let them discover new things, but it feels like a never-ending merry go round. We have season passes to a local zoo (I'm not proud of this as a vegan either), and they play the song "The Land Down Under" on repeat, all day, every day. To the random tourist this "jam" really gets you in the spirit when perusing all the "down under" species. To me it mocks me and reminds me that I should be seeing these animals in their natural habitats instead of adding to their already dreary existence in a place that is not in alignment with my values.
In 8 days my family and I will fly to California to pick up our RV, which we are moving into full-time. We will have it parked up at work while we are in town, but plan to spend as much time on the road over the next two years on this continent until we move to Hawaii. That way if we get island fever, we'll know we've seen so much of the US and Canada that we'll have to move on. Perhaps to Australia.
I was mad at myself for crying about the car. The fact that I loved it so much. All the technology that made the driving experience easier was really nice. And there is nothing inherently wrong with nice things. In fact I'd recommend that car to pretty much anyone who'd listen. I just know that for right now, we don't need it. It was extra. And 2020 is not our time for extra. It has been our time for looking at our needs, and getting rid of the rest.
In 2020 I started two giant food gardens, I stopped buying needlessly. I got rid of Amazon. I started getting back to basics. I started figuring out what I really wanted from life and began devising a way to get there and get the whole family on board. I don't go to a gym anymore, I run outside and play with my kids and for me that's enough. I run in running sandals that don't have an expiration on the number of miles I can put into them. I buy minimally processed foods (flours, rice cakes) and whole foods and cook from scratch. I mostly shop secondhand for clothing if needed (we need a few cold-weather items such as gloves for the kids when we hit the snow on our trip home from CA). I actually dislike spending money now. Now that I know and FEEL that every time I spend now, I take time away from later, it hurts a little. Early retirement it is hard to do now, but I believe my sacrifices now will pay off in the future. (https://amzn.to/37E2G0o) link to You're Money or Your Life...The book that got it all started for me. "Break the spell of the consumer culture."
I've been sitting here really thinking about that dang car. What it was doing for me, for my ego. It made me better than. I don't know if that's what I wanted to be. It's what media and advertising told me to want. Though there were positive things about the car (41 miles to the gallon!), it did not justify it's expense to me right now. Especially considering that selling it back to the dealership is paying for 3/4 of our RV. If I do buy another car in the near future (maybe for Hawaii) I'm going all electric. Turns out you can get a used electric car for as little as 11k that has a pretty decent range.
I know that the economy won't be as seemingly scary as it is right now, and that we'll all go back to some modicum of normalcy in the not so distant future. Will I forget my frugal ways? I don't know for sure. I do know that my grandparents were pretty thrifty people and living through the Great Depression shaped who they were, and how they spent as adults. I also know this didn't necessarily translate to my parents who tended to be spendthrifts. I wonder if it was a lack of communication about money or just the depravation combined with modern marketing that got them so off the beam? I'd like to find a balance between purchasing or consuming because I can compared with only the things I need. I'd like to keep the conversation open with my kids. They have already been exposed to a lot of marketing and shiny plastic things, and especially in my oldest, I can see a deep desire to have all the toys. She has been sold the idea that happiness and fulfillment is just around the corner in the next beeping, talking, unicorn etc...
So you see, we HAVE to hit the road. We have been stuck trying to wrest satisfaction out of our "things" and we have come up painfully short. We pull them out and clean them up over and over and over again. We step on them, break them, swear we are not buying one more of them, but then we do that all over again too. Before there were endless isles of blinking, slimy, fashionable, talking, plastic bs I think we were probably happier. Happier with the woods, and a doll or two that a family member made. We played games and talked and used our imaginations. We grew our food and had chores and really there was a lot of honest work to do so we weren't idlily staring at screens or the walls. We were writing, singing, learning instruments, playing sports, talking with community members and neighbors, and it took a village to raise us. Now we are lonely and separate. Wondering if the play dates will accept us? Wondering if we should move to the neighborhood with the pool and pay the HOA fees, at least that way we'll have something to do to get outside...These can't be my choices. I'm over it. I'm over the neighborhoods and the shopping, and the day in, day out monotony. Aren't you tired of it too? Maybe you like it and you like your community. I hope you do. Maybe we can stop by for a visit? Whatever happens, I'll keep looking for our little slices of heaven. We won't do it perfectly, and definitely won't do it gracefully, but we will explore all the places. And hopefully, I'll stop crying over the things that come and go and find more gratitude in the experiences we rack up. Amen, and Happy Trails.