My Rules: 15. It Is Always Better To Give Things Up

“I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” – E. F. Schumacher

This rule is pretty obvious for someone living a minimalist lifestyle like my own. I often have to give things up, simply due to lack of space. Sometimes, the most difficult times to do such is when those items have sentimental value or mean something personal. This rule creates the challenge that freeing yourself of these things, even, is better than holding on needlessly. Similarly, it also challenges to “let go” of those people I grow to love and the places that steal my heart.

This is a continuation of my series about My Rules.

Perhaps it is almost too obvious for me to have a rule like this in here, but I actually did not even think of it at first. When I first began devising my rules, I was at a time of my life that I still had a great deal of excess. My home was packed full of needless things, and I often spent more energy dealing with this excess than was really ever worth it. But as I continued on this path, the rule became clear to me: I needed to continue building my confidence and comfort with the ideals of minimalism and simple living.

IMG_3830Perhaps my favorite embodiment of this rule is the saying, “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it is yours; if it does not, it never was.” This saying captures how this rule doesn’t necessarily mean get rid of absolutely everything. Some times, things are in our lives for a valid reason. However, this rule does urge a willingness–a readiness, even–to have everything leave, when its time is right.

n this lifestyle, I have ended up giving up a lot of sentimental items, and a lot of things that it took me a lot of thought and even some grief to get rid of. It has been amazingly difficult at times, but this rule came through: I am better for having given those items up.

To expand upon this yet more, sometimes people and places need to be given up as well, or “let go of”. Perhaps people you love and places that have come to hold a sense of “home”. On setting out on this journey, I knew I was going to be giving up all of these, to some degree. It has been enlightening and has brought me immense amounts of joy to watch those who have simply shifted to new roles in my life through no real effort of my own. It has been great to find the places that change who I am and cause me to look at the next place through entirely different eyes. Though I have given up all of these, they are still here, with me, and the entire experience has been for the better in every way.

IMG_3869Of special importance to me, actually, is the loss of my old concept of “home”. I always knew this was something that I would have to give up in order to live this vagabond lifestyle. At times, this has been remarkably difficult, as I struggled with everything that not having a “home” really meant to me at different times in my life.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve often had a more difficult time with the concept of “home”, as I have often felt like somewhat of an outsider in the communities in which I lived. I recall early childhood in Minnesota, but losing some of that sense of “home” there as the family moved to Wisconsin. Although I spent several years in one community, I was remarkably happy to uproot my life and “home” during high school, and then only had a short time before moving out to California.

I spent a wonderful amount of time in the same place in California. Enough to develop some sense of “home”, there. In some regards, however, the Midwest always still had some sense of that “home” left behind, and California would simply never gain that for me.

IMG_4125So, when I hit the road, being purposely homeless, it seemed somewhat easier to give up, in fact. “Home” didn’t really have all that much meaning. Yet it is still a more recent change that when asked, I openly say that my “home” is “on the road”; that I am from “travelling full time”. For a while, there was still the lack of an attachment; I didn’t have my people in any regard the majority of the time, and a place called “home” was confusing. I had given all of this up to hit the road and travel. Today, I have a clear concept of “home” again, and it is large: my home is everywhere I go that has people I love and places that change me. Right now, “home” is the US, and I feel very attached to this home, for all of its diversity and beauty. My home has its problems, and I get upset with my home, but I love regardless.

I would never have grown into the person that I am today, if I had not given up so much. My home would never be so large, and I would never have such an appreciation for the people and wonderful things in my life. As this rule states: it has always been better to give things up.


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