OK, I should probably try and explain my reasons for this crazy scheme. I’ll start with what I’m using as the title of the blog – what I like to call Fear Of Stuff.
In the nine years since I’ve been employed and living in rented accommodation, I’ve moved house six times, and each time I’ve had to physically touch and account for everything I own. Even though I’ve always striven to be minimalist in the amount of crap I have (my collection of possessions probably looks rather paltry by most people’s standards), confronting it all always makes me feel uneasy. How much of that stuff does a person really need? All it does is weigh us down: physically, making it difficult to relocate; financially, requiring storage and maintenance; and emotionally, causing us to worry about losing it…
And for what? Most of us never even see half of our crap – it gets stored away in attics, garages and seldom-opened cupboards. And most of the rest just sits around the place unused – decorative at best. I can only speak for myself here, but not counting furniture, the amount of stuff I really use in any given week would easily fit in the back of a car, probably even in a suitcase or two if you don’t count the TV.
And I know from experience that I can be quite happy with just a suitcase’s worth of stuff…
Now, unlike many people I know, I never did the long-term travelling thing in my late teens or early twenties – I just went straight from school to university to full-time employment, getting more and more disillusioned with the realities of adult life at each stage.
If you’ll forgive me the brief diversion, I completely fail to see the appeal of the Standard Life Checklist – you know the one: work hard, spend a small fortune on a wedding; work hard, buy a house; work hard, save for retirement. It almost sounds religious: deny yourself now, and you’ll get your reward in the next stage of your existence.
Except that’s far from guaranteed, is it? My dad, having originally left school at 16, decided in his mid twenties to work hard, get an education, invest in a house – the usual life plan. And it worked, right up until the point when he lost practically everything in a series of astonishing misfortunes and ended up living on benefits in a council house, forbidden for medical reasons from practising the very profession he’d worked so hard to become qualified in. And he died at the age of 58.
I refuse to sell my present to buy a future that might never arrive.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes – I never did the long-term travelling thing, but I’ve done a fair bit of short-term travelling – a few days, a week, two at most. And every single time, I get a huge feeling of freedom from being unencumbered by possessions, and a huge amount of satisfaction from the unfamiliar surroundings – from simply dealing with the most mundane of activities, but in a new environment.
I gather that many people like holidays because of the relaxation and the escape from day-to-day worries. But personally, I like them because they’re stimulating. Relaxation isn’t the point – I could do that anywhere – but new sights and sounds, new challenges, new unfamiliar situations to deal with… I get a huge kick out of all that stuff. I even enjoy the practicalities of travelling to get there, simply because it’s different from my repetitive day-to-day existence.
Don’t believe me? I’ve been on a few trips with work over the years, and have always enjoyed them as much as any other holiday (yes, I think of them as holidays too) for precisely these reasons.
So I guess that’s why I move house so much – it’s all about those first few weeks when everything feels new and unfamiliar.
Unfortunately, the feeling always fades after a little while… but does it have to?
Why not keep that feeling going?