In some ways I think this whole adventure started with an odd sock…that I kept with all the other odd socks I had accumulated, in the vain hope they would one day be re-united with their other halves. The odd sock bag grew bigger and bigger until I stumbled across the de-clutterer’s bible, Marie Kondo’s, “The life-changing magic of tidying up”. And life-changing it was – out went the odd sock bag, out went most of my wardrobe and (some, only some) shoes, kitchen cupboards emptied, old scratched CDs tossed – the whole house was de-cluttered – twenty bags of stuff ditched, two council clean ups and a few runs to Vinnies…and for a while I truly did feel transformed (though drew the line at talking to my remaining clothes and thanking them each night as Marie suggests), and found life was so much easier with less stuff.
But it wasn’t enough…I continued to feel weighed down by all the STUFF we still had. And the pressure of working to buy the stuff, and paying the mortgage for the house to keep all the stuff in…did we really need all this stuff? For a long time, whenever I finished a big deal at work I would take myself off to the shops for some retail therapy – I work hard, I thought, I deserve this. But a new pair of shoes never made up for the nights spent away from the kids, or helped me recover from weeks on end of less than four hours sleep. Stuff wasn’t making me happy, and working hard to have more money to buy more stuff for the family (that I couldn’t even enjoy most of the time because I was at work) wasn’t really how I wanted our future to pan out. We felt burdened by these external pressures but it occurred to me that these were pressures, and stuff, and a lifestyle, that we had chosen. We had opted into a life filled with stuff – why couldn’t we opt out for a while?
With the epiphany of packing it all in, all the stuff is decreasing rapidly. To sell the house we had to put most of our stuff in storage and live in a minimalist showcase…and we survived. When we moved out but still had a few months of school and work left, all five of us moved into a one bedroom apartment with a few suitcases and boxes …and we survived. Now with work clothes and city living stuff packed away we are down to a few changes of clothes each, swimmers, some winter woollies, camera, laptop, the kids’ devices (for school) and a well stocked kitchen in the Shack (our camper trailer and home for the next year). Freed from all of the stuff, we are down to the bare necessities…and so far so good.
Our year on the road will be about DOING things, rather than HAVING things. Our only real expenses will be petrol, food (and wine*), insurance (dull but important) and internet. (By the way – internet is essential because it doesn’t matter how much we are roughing it – Game of Thrones is a MUST HAVE. Jon Snow is absolutely a bare necessity….and the barer the better thanks very much). It will be a year of living simply, with few expenses and not much “stuff”…but I have a feeling that the experiences, memories and life perspectives we come back with will be far more valuable than any stuff we would have bought.
*Yes, we will be buying wine…because in my view wine is not STUFF, but is an experience…oh and for my truly altruistic research task