Youth is spent collecting things. We find things that we like and we keep them. We attach our identity to them, making them important if only to us.
Our collections grow as we do. They hold memories, marking time. They preserve a place in our history, tangible pieces of who we are and where we have been. These are the things that made us who we are, and tell our story. They define us, becoming our lifelines, anchoring us to the world as we know it.
As we go through our lives, we continue to obtain things. Some things make our lives easier. We reward ourselves with things that we feel we deserve or have earned. We become surrounded with things, a lifetime of collected moments, events, memories and rewards.
However, sometimes life events or circumstances changes your focus. Suddenly, you see these things for what they really are: things.
My health with its complications forced me to do things differently. I had to do things differently, changing many things. Again it has changed, as I found out that the surgery "didn't take". I had been told for six months that it was successful.
When Bill lost his job, we truly learned what is necessary...and what is not. There is a big difference between what you want and what you need. His new career is teaching us both many things. (It has been six weeks since I have seen my husband of 30+ years.)
My health issues, loss of Bill's career, loss of family and loved ones, all of this refocused our energies and also our finances. It became increasingly obvious how much time and energy, but also space and money was spent, perhaps wasted on "things". As stress rose, so did the need to simplify. Inevitably, reality set in as to the differences between need and want. With this came the clarity that our happiest times were those of simplicity.
Personally, I have never been one to need much to make me happy. Loved ones, human or fuzzy, nature, hugs, smiles...the little things always make me happy. It really hit me hard that all of the "things" did not make me happy! In reality, these things were stressors. They embody stress and waste.
I can give up the "things", the stuff. I have, in fact. What really matters is what is behind the stuff, the meaning of the things. It is the love, the hugs, the laughter, the memories of the time spent together with loved ones. It is the connections made with them, not with the "things". This is what keeps me going; this is what I need. These things don't cost money, don't need to be dusted; they don't get broken or take up space. I can take these with me wherever I go, carrying them with me, right in my heart. These things last a lifetime, and they make life worth living.
I am weeding out the "things", the stuff; I'm sorting, and clearing it out. But I am gaining insight and clarity, and hopefully eventual wisdom. In the end, it is not what we have, it is the way we live.