Material Weight Loss
by Rebecca Kovan, PhD
By the time this article is published, I will have moved. I will start the process by signing the lease.
I have four days to go through all of my family’s belongings, figure out what comes with us, what gets sold, what gets donated, and what gets tossed. I have four days to make repairs, rent a truck, box and haul, and drop off the transport to my new house. I am only moving five miles away from where I currently reside, which makes things easier, as I can do several back and forth trips; however, the expectation of what lies ahead is a daunting prospect.
One of the top stressors faced by Americans is moving. What I am finding challenging is going through all of the accumulated stuff. Perhaps it is the inherent pressure of uprooting and then re-rooting, but I feel like I could set fire to 90 percent of what I own, and not miss any of it. I’m choking on things, and having to move placed this fact front and center.
A topic for this month’s Nutricula is diet. I am loudly and publicly claiming that I am going on a material thing-diet. When there is a layer of dust atop of a good portion of my belongings, clothing included, it is time to trim the fat.
Think about how much we carry around in our lives. We lug our stuff, from place to place, or, if we somehow manage to stay put, we often pile on and up more and more crap that we, at best, hardly ever use. Conspicuous consumption has become a religion of sorts; we are told by industry that owning such and such will bring us happiness. If it is not directly stated, it is certainly implied. That is why advertising and marketing are both booming businesses.
He or she with the most toys wins? I don’t think so…
How many toys can my son play with at once? How many shoes can I wear at once, (the last time I checked, I only had two feet)? How many cars can I drive at once? It is really quite ridiculous. Again, it is worth repeating, I do not believe that those with the most stuff win. I do believe that those who are present in their moments are more at peace with whatever lands on the proverbial plate. Presence does not require anything other than itself. In fact, anything else only confuses the field.
Then, what is this compulsion to acquire things?
Is it lack of discipline? Is it misguided intent? Is it self-absorption? I don’t have the answer, but I am going to spend some time pondering the question. I do know that the things that matter in life are not really things, but are instead, the connections we have with others and the heart and meaning we infuse in our daily lives.
So, as I look around me, with not yet one box packed, and am disgusted by what I have collected. I am by no means a hoarder, but I collect. My father has always been of the opinion, “When in doubt, throw it out.” My husband feels the same way. Until now, I have failed to take a page out of that book, and instead have leaned in the direction of, “But I may need it.”
Really? I may need it? I haven’t needed it for years. The only reason I proclaim, “I may need it” is because I become anxious at the thought of losing it. Somewhere, things became tied up as a part of my identity, and if I lost that thing, whatever it may be, or if I let it go, I was somehow losing a piece of myself.
But that is irrational thinking at its finest.
In fact, I would state that letting go of your things makes one stronger and more pure. It facilitates flow and movement. Creativity will increase and there will be room for more bounty to come through. Letting go can be hard, but I suspect we make it harder than it needs to be. Please don’t misunderstand me, for I am not endorsing an ascetic/minimalistic existence, though if that is your thing, hats off to you. What I am saying is that stuff weighs us down, just like unnecessary body mass. It makes us more sluggish and tired, less energetic and unhealthy.
Letting go of what no longer serves us is freeing.
So I’m going on a material thing-diet. I’m going to lighten my load, and that of my family, and start fresh in a sparse space. I’ll fill in what is missing later. I need to disentangle myself from this perverted notion that I am my things. No, I am not. I am me. My things are tools, and truth be told, I don’t need a battalion of instruments to be happy.
I going on a diet, and in one week, I’ll likely be one ton lighter, and immeasurably happier.
As is my way, I’ll conclude with a relevant poem from a book I co-authored with my husband and illustrated, called Alphabet Living (https://www.alphabetliving.com).
W is for Wisdom
Wisdom is insightful understanding gained through time.
Wisdom has a quiet strength, both humble and sublime.
Knowing that the moment’s Now is part of Wisdom’s face.
Wisdom guides awareness and perception into place.
Now go hug you children—clear your clutter—and make it a great day!
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