“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
– Lao Tzu
We have been on a road of our choosing now for several years, one very few understand. Maybe it was becoming a mother and seeing how different raising a child had become since the time my mother raised my sister and I. Maybe it was us diving deeper into our Tao cultivation, making us more aware of our attachment to possessions and habits that were leading us nowhere. Or maybe, it was a combination of both… Whatever it was, it has led us here, to a place where our home feels cramped, life seems to be going by too fast and everything has become subject to conversation and analysis, in order to answer the question we’ve been asking ourselves over and over again :
“Do we really need all this?”
Our home is less than 900 sq.ft with half a basement. At the time we bought it, we only had Little Miss. It had taken us 4 years to successfully start a family so the idea of having a second child was one of distant dreams… So we bought the small house, perfect for a family of 3. Then our prayers were answered and Little Man arrived. But we loved our home (and little piece of land) so we had only one choice : Make it work.
What do you do when you need to make a small house bigger? You empty it. So we have been on a mission to get rid of things. Our goal : 50% of all we own will have been donated, given away or sold by the time 2014 is done. I would say we are easily at 25% to date.
Some areas have been easy to clean out :
- Clothing and shoes
- Baby things (So easy to give them to friends that will be giving birth to precious new little ones!)
- Kitchen gadgets, tools and small appliances
- Dishes (Can you believe we had 2 full 8 people place sets??? – Our table sits 4!)
- Papers (Clearing out filling cabinets has been so satisfying.)
- Magazines (I always have friends and family to take my magazines. They live on and please others.)
- DVDs (Our tastes in movies and entertainment have changed so much that most of our movies we now find offensive and unpleasant to watch.)
Some things are less easy to get rid of (but we still managed to get rid of a lot!) :
- The kids toys (I feel bad getting rid of their toys because they are not mine. They belong to them so I feel disrespectful giving away their things.)
- Books (Oh how I love my books!)
- My daughter’s artwork ( I know we can’t keep every scrap of paper she drew a circle on, but so much of her heart goes into her doodles. It tugs at my soul.)
- Fabric scraps (The thrifter/upcycler/recycler in me can’t let anything go that could be reused!)
It is a plan in action and little by little, we are getting to where we want to be. Funny enough, right now, the house feels even more cramped as boxes are being pulled from the crawl space and emptied to sort, leaving behind things that must now find a home. That is another one of our goals : Aside from seasonal things (camping gear, Christmas decorations, etc.) if we can’t find a place for it out in the open, then we must not need it!
It’s been an eye (and heart) opening process. Tao is not against possession. Not all cultivators must become monks in order to attain enlightenment. In this period of cultivation, we can do so among people, learning to cultivate with the challenges of a world filled with temptations. But as we have been letting go of “things”, we have also been letting go of pain and suffering. I had slowly experienced it as our path was unfolding, but never as much and as suddenly as I have with letting go of material possessions that I now know were causing such heaviness. As bags and bags, boxes upon boxes, are leaving our home every week to be left in drop boxes, brought to friends, sold for a few dollars here and there, it becomes easier to see what else can be let go of. Simplifying our existence has become such a freeing experience that I wake up in the morning now looking around the house for something else to remove.
It started as a challenge, it has become a sure way to a happier life.
Wishing all of you a peaceful day…