I’ve always been a lover of things.
Shiny things, pretty things, things that cost a lot, things that cost nothing at all, and I was happy with this setup—for a time.
My earthy nature meant that surrounding myself with beautiful objects gave me a lift each day—some feeling of success and attunement with the world around me. I was doing “reverse magic”—creating positive change on the inside by shuffling around the aesthetics of the outside.
All throughout my university, I hung out in charity shops and at vintage fairs, like a magpie searching for the newest bit of sparkle to line her nest, but at some point, it stopped feeling good.
The excitement to fondle my latest find began to fade and I would quickly feel cold and heavy, guilty perhaps. Should I really be spending money on things I don’t need? My conscience was beginning to outweigh my desire for the material, except it didn’t feel good.
I’d look around me and just see stuff. All this stuff was my responsibility. Like children or pets, but with no life, and way less joy. I never wore the fancy dresses and I definitely didn’t give love to the ornaments and trinkets that sat collecting dust. Me and my things were growing apart.
When you’re going all in on the mystic, the material beings begin to look less fabulous and a lot more soulless. Instead of buying beautiful beaded dresses and old photographs, I was spending my money on training, tools, and readings. Finding out more about myself became my new obsession.
So, I began to clear. Half therapeutically, half somewhat manically. I sold most of my stuff and I bought a flight to India. Abrupt, but not exactly a novel experience. I’m sure many have done something similar.
The details of that trip are irrelevant but the wisdom I gained from it was immense. I discovered that not everybody lives in this material kaleidoscope of things. Some of us earthlings see it differently.
I remember sitting with some of our newfound Indian friends. Just sitting. My partner and I were restless, not used to being still, and so we asked that common yet fatal question that us Westerners seem to herald on the regulations, “So, what shall we do?”
Our Indian friends burst into laughter and said, “What? Nothing! Why do we need to do something? We are just enjoying.” I remember it well; our faces must have been worth a picture!
And now, many months later, back in the Western world, I’m faced yet again with the temptation to accumulate things, and to work nonstop for these things. My family desires a better house, better TV, better car, displeased with the current version as if their semi-detached house and semi-new van somehow define them as people.
We pursue happiness, constantly working and climbing up the ladder of things, hoping that when we get to the top, they can finally “just enjoy.”
But some of the people I met in India and Nepal were, in our definition of the word, poor. Yet they were far more content than any of the people I know who have more than enough. These “poor” people were richer in life than many of us have ever been.
In the West, we associate the accumulation of money with happiness. Our things become our identity and we are encouraged to buy more.
You cannot walk down the road without being bombarded by adverts telling you that you must do or buy in order to be. Why is that not the case in the East? It cannot be the norm.
Are we stuck in a material mindset? Consuming until we devour our own souls and have to find solace in the other? Other things, other people, other distractions?
And surely, what we’re all really looking for is inside us, like the age-old saying, “What are you are seeking is inside you.”
So, I have made a decision to stop. I’m shedding more and more of my things like a heavy skin that has dried up and become too tight.
Things that were once my favorite, are now seeking new homes, where they will be appreciated, or perhaps not. But that’s okay, because they have never really been a part of me.
I am more than the material and I am seeking to “just enjoy.” If that means I am perceived to have “less” than my neighbors, then so be it.
My life now is much freer without all the material. I still have “things” but they are special, chosen by “if it’s not useful or beautiful, it goes.” These things all fit into a few small boxes when I go away, which I can do now that I have more money and less stuff.
I spend on experiences rather than clothes or gadgets, baubles, and junk. I read books and pass them on, rather than cling to them. The stories themselves stay with me.
Our whole lives are stories that we are creating day by day. We can choose to craft an epic adventure or a home order catalog. I know which one I’d prefer.
I would never return to that feeling of drowning amongst objects, choking on dust, and disappointment. I still have the eye of a magpie, but I know that each sparkly find comes with a much bigger price tag than the one you see, and I’m not willing to work more and play less, just so I can own it.
You don’t have to take a trip to India to see it—just look around your own home. How much of the stuff you own is being used and loved? Do you work because you enjoy it or so you can buy bigger and better things? Is there any way you could work less, have less, and still be happy? Perhaps even happier?
I think it is time we all looked to the East, but more importantly, inside ourselves, for there is more gold and riches in there than we will ever find for sale.
Author: Ellie Pierpoint
Image: Author’s own / @dismystic Instagram
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Leah Sugerman