Friday, July 01, 2011

Fluid Ownership

In response to A Simple Strategy for Simplifying on Zen Habits:

Fluid ownership. You acquire the materials you need to live your life. Let go of those possessions when they no longer serve you, and update and replace what you need to fit your current lifestyle and activities.

When we recently moved from Minnesota to Virginia not by moving truck but by our own caravan of vehicles, we knew we physically could not fit every piece of furniture we owned. It wasn't worth it to haul my old desk 1,300 miles when I could replace it (if necessary) after we arrived in Virginia. So we sold it. (and didn't need to replace it)

During our last week in Minnesota, we sold as much as we could on Craigslist. And it was extremely effective. We felt (positive) pressure to leave that furniture behind - it physically wouldn't fit on the truck unless we took something else OUT of the truck. And we had other possessions that were more important to take along. Those pieces of furniture were weighing us down, and we didn't even know if they'd be necessary tools for us in our new home. So we passed them along to Craigslisters who needed them right Now.

It's like the Circle of Life!

Mufasa & Simba in Disney's The Lion King

Why do we feel like we need to own our things for Forever? When we're growing up in our childhood (physically growing), it's not at all emotionally difficult to get rid of too-small clothes and buy new ones. Because we KNOW those old clothes aren't working for us in our new bodies.

Even as adults, we're always growing and always changing. I don't feel like I'm the same person that I was 6 months ago, let alone from 3 years ago. The stuff I acquired 3 years ago may not be the most effective and efficient tools for my life right now. Sure, three years ago I felt like I needed to collect and keep every art supply that crossed my path. I would stock up on supplies for class projects, and since I was in school it was always that "just in case" - just in case I needed it for my final project.

But now, in 2011, I'm out of school. I've finished with all my art class assignments and final projects. And I'm not actively working in all of the mediums I worked with three years ago. I don't need clay tools, book binding supplies, printmaking paper AND spray paint. These days I stick mostly with pens, markers, and watercolor. Those are the tools that are helping me in my current situation - in my life - right Now.

Keep the possessions that are useful to you right Now. When they become clutter, cumbersome, or start to weigh you down - sell, donate, repurpose, recycle, or toss. The surroundings in your home should change WITH you as you change. Circle of Life, baby.

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