When did I know I could live with less?
I have been thinking a lot recently about when I realised living with less, having less to worry about and look after, started for me. As a child my Mum took care of clearing out our books and toys, she sometimes gave them to friends with children younger, or she enjoyed selling at car boot sales and using her takings for our new shoes or clothes. Then as an adult I had grown up possessions; books, CDs, clothes, shoes, lots of bags, photos, sentimental items, household items and a car. I carried all of this with me from rental to rental. It was a lot to take care of.
In 2003 I decided to take a sabbatical from my city job, for 6 months, and go travelling with my now husband. It was a huge decision and exciting in that I had never been this adventurous in my life. Flights were booked, visas were bought, and we had an itinerary for the places we wanted to visit on our travels. The biggest hurdle was what to do with all my stuff. Where would I keep it until I returned? Fortunately, a friend stored everything I owned, if I knew then what I know now I would have made some cash and sold most of it at a car boot sale!! We live and learn.
Learn I did. With some clothes and books in my green and red backpack I boarded my plane and headed to Australia. I didn’t think about what I’d left behind, there were so many adventures ahead of me. I could not wait to experience Bondi beach and “sun my buns”!!! I did not do that, but I did get a bonza tan!
So, what was it like living for 6 months out of a backpack? It’s the backpackers way, you have what you need in one portable backpack and anything you do desperately need can be bought. The focus was more “where or what shall we do today” as opposed to “I have nothing to wear”. I had 3 t-shirts, 3 vest tops, 2 shorts, one pair of long combat trousers, 2 skirts, one pairs of trainers, one pair of sandals and my sunglasses. I treated myself to a nice top (in the sales) for the nights we had a dinner somewhere nice. I really wasn’t bothered about my clothes; it was so easy to have less. Having less to weigh me down freed my consciousness. I was taking in all the new experiences, making new memories, I started a journal and I realised that it is not what you have but who you have around you that counts. I missed my friends and family. A lot. Some days were hard, and I’d be homesick. Emails from home meant so much.
Everything started to fall into perspective, I made the most of everyday and all the new experiences and people that were coming into my life. I knew I would do the same when I returned home.
Who was I before I embarked on traveling and who was I after I landed back in the UK? I was still me, I still love shopping and I still love new things. Living out of a backpack shifted my priorities and I wanted a life that could be simple, I didn’t need rails of clothes or bookshelves crammed with books I’d never read. I let it go and it didn’t bother me anymore. I sold or donated most of the “stuff” I kept at my friend’s house and I don’t miss or remember what’s gone. That’s the funny thing about possessions, you can hang on to them for years and then when you’ve let them go you don’t give them a second thought! So now I collect memories, not possessions. I’m still working on getting that bonza tan again.