Present Tense

Heeeeeeeyyyy, man……….

I wanna be a hippie.  Plain and simple.

Okay, maybe not a true hippie, but what I call a neo-hippie; I think I’m probably a little too old and comfortable to live in a VW bus and follow a band around, but I think my yearning comes from a desire to simplify and downsize my lifestyle.

I was joking with some friends about it; how I’ve started baking bread and am planning to grow some vegetables in my plot in the community garden this summer.   How I’d like to trim some of our ‘stuff’ that fills our house.   Then, I realized that over a decade ago, my husband and I brewed our own beer, we had a big garden and I canned vegetables and he kept bees.  That’s right, I am married to a former (and I hope, future) bee keeper.  We already had hippie training.

I’ve already lived what I am yearning for and yet, at that time, I was ready for a change, so we moved to Colorado.  I wrote in my last post about losing and trying to regain my fearlessness.  I wrote of some of my fears:  dying, losing loved ones, losing everything I’ve worked for and this is what I’ve decided:  I have too much.

My husband and I are at odds as to what to do with what I see as the excess ‘stuff’ we’ve accumulated over the years.   We’re not hoarders, but over 21 years of marriage, we’ve collected a fair amount of possessions.  Books, CDs, clothing, furniture, paperwork, tools, shoes, bedding, housewares, bikes, golf clubs, ski gear, cars blah, blah, blah.  We’ve had small houses, medium houses, a condo and currently, a house that is bigger than what we need.  I have a burning desire to clear it all out, right down to the bare minimum essentials.

I told my husband that our possessions feel like a burden; like a weight.  Regrets for the money I spent on too much stuff, regrets that I’ve been wasteful, a sense that we are old, fat, happy and ‘settled’ in our too-big house, with our too many possessions.  It feels suffocating.

He, on the other hand, looks at our “stuff” as a life well-lived; as proof of success.  He fears that anything we get rid of, we’ll need and in some cases, he’s probably right.  I’m not that good at moderation; my instinct is to just expunge and start over.  Intellectually, I know that’s silly; that I should be methodical and practical. The restlessness and at the same time, stagnation that I’m feeling right now, is about more than possessions.

Part of it is the realization that I may not have that much time left and how do I want to spend that time?  I’m not big on regrets; we are given choices, we choose and there is nothing to do but live with it.  However, I recently heard a quote that says it all: ” No matter how far I travel on the wrong path, I can always turn around”.

Anyone want to buy some of my ‘stuff’??

April 16, 2011 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , ,

11 Comments »

  1. I don’t want any of yours…..I have way too much of my own. I can feel the beginning of a new ‘season’ coming on and I think that I need to do some expunging of my own. Thanks!

    Comment by kandis | April 16, 2011 | Reply

  2. I might. What are you selling? What are you asking?

    This might be a good forum for a virtual garage sale. List it on here. Pictures. Prices. Offers in the comments. Don’t have to deal with sketchy Craigslist people.

    Comment by Kevin | April 16, 2011 | Reply

    • Kevin, sorry. I was being whimsical. I’m not trying to sell anything to you all.

      Comment by janelondon | April 16, 2011 | Reply

      • OK, well, then, guess I’ll go see if all my stuff is still in the dumpster. 🙂

        Comment by Kevin | April 16, 2011

  3. Purging “stuff” is one of the most liberating actions I have taken in my increasingly-vigorous “life cleanse.” And Jane, you are right. At the bottom of it, the “stuff” is only a tangible representation of what is actually going on inside. I am a yoga teacher. With that title, I suppose, comes an automatic membership into Hippie-ism, so I’ve got that part in the bag. Jokes aside, the principle of non-attachment taught in yoga is a wonderful one. Once you let go of “stuff,” other things, like self-criticism, bad habits, etc., start to slip out of one’s life, almost unnoticed. I would suggest instead of selling your “stuff,” give it away! Then, the rewards are exponential- you receive freedom, AND the unadulterated joy that comes with giving. You needn’t give everything away for this process to be effective, either. Make 3 piles: 1) trash (or recycle or Goodwill), 2) keep and 3) give. The result is 2/3 less stuff you have to deal with, and many, many people who may benefit from something you have to give them. Start in one room, and proceed slowly. It may seem daunting at first, but I guarantee you will not want to quit when you feel how light your heart and shoulders are! Good luck on this phase of your journey, Jane…it is a beautiful one.

    Comment by Jen | April 16, 2011 | Reply

    • Jen;
      thanks for the thoughts and I love the idea of 3 piles. I typically donate a lot of stuff and have already boxed up extra books for our local library.
      Love the phrase “increasingly vigorouse life-cleanse”.
      j

      Comment by janelondon | April 16, 2011 | Reply

  4. I routinely purge the house of the stuff I’ve accumulated. I try to do it once a year. I wish I could convince my husband to do the same thing! He’s got boxes of books that have not been unpacked from two previous moves, and it drives me a bit batty. I’m also on the road to simplifying my life. I don’t need more stuff, that’s for sure. I’ve made a vow to myself recently that if I spend anymore money on anything, it’s going to be on an experience that will last in my heart and memory forever, not physical possessions I don’t need. I can’t take “stuff” to the afterlife w/ me. Instead of accumulating crap that just sits around, I want to learn knew things, meet knew people, travel, cook amazing meals for the people I love and watch them devour it in 3 minutes. 🙂 I want to own a small business in 5-7 years, which means putting away as much money as I can into mutual funds and money market accounts; that means sticking to my budget and being frugal; living simply. It also means I’ve just got 5 years to learn everything I can about running a small business. I do not have time for “stuff.” 🙂

    Unfortunately, the American idea of success is tied up w/ possessions, keeping up w/ the Jones’, flaunting what you’ve got to anyone who will stop and pay attention. My own parents are guilty of this, and I get lectured by my Father every time I call home about how my “career path” is not going to serve me in the long run, and why don’t I go to law school? No matter how many times I tell him that I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, he won’t listen. To him, I should be making more money so I can buy more stuff. I refuse to live like that. Is that REALLY authentic living? I think not.

    A good rule of thumb for purging: If you haven’t used an item or it hasn’t seen the light of day in 2 years, it can be purged from the household! If by some small chance you should need something in the future–buy it used.

    Good luck, Jane!

    Comment by Roxanne Rieske | April 16, 2011 | Reply

  5. I worry about that suffocating feeling and I’m not even at the point where I’ve built a successful life, home, or stuff to fill it with. Great post! I’m going to remember this: “No matter how far I travel on the wrong path, I can always turn around.”

    Comment by Help me, Bacon | April 16, 2011 | Reply

  6. Books can always be donated to local library, I do that whenever I finish book club book that I have bought. They are very grateful especially if it is one of those popular books (like most recently, “The Art of Racing in the Rain”.

    Comment by Jessi | April 17, 2011 | Reply

  7. You’re singing my song girl. Love, love, love from one who has expunged the filling of one 3000 square foot home down to an 800 square foot landing pad. It is freeing and terrifying at once. From here on out my life is one thing in, one thing out. Simple.

    Comment by Margie | April 17, 2011 | Reply

  8. Oh! How I miss those hippie days. Peace and Love, Man!!! That was far better than the anger mankind is carrying around these days. I miss the fun and the joy that our generation got to experience. As I look back at my life and take inventory of all my stuff, I too realize it is time to do an about turn, to clean house starting with getting rid of all the toxic people in both my personal and professional life, finding a new job that will correspond to my moral values, my personal and professional ethics and the respect due to all those teachers that have taught me well over the years. Once I get my professional life back on track, then I will tackle “the physical stuff” and finish off with a fresh coat of paint. Then hopefully the feeling of personal satisfaction and inner joy will come back. That’s the plan… even if it means getting dressed up like a hippie now and then.

    Comment by Danielle | May 26, 2011 | Reply


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