Packing our things
At the end of June we waved goodbye to all our belongings as they were neatly packed into cardboard boxes and driven away. The only belongings we had to our name were in a trusty suitcase and a pack on my back. Days later we left Michigan with the expectation that our things would be meeting us in Mexico in 6-8 weeks. I would be in Asia for the next 7 weeks and B would be in Mexico.
Arriving in Mexico in early October
I was surprised to find that our belongings had not yet arrived and it didn’t look like they were coming anytime soon. B’s temporary residency was taking far longer than expexted. This was a requirement for our things to make it across the border. For the next few months we were to live in a very empty home in Mexico. No appliances, no furniture, and only the summer clothes I packed for China hung in the closet. To look on the bright side Mexico doesn’t get too cold, but let’s be honest one should only walk around in Chacos for so long.
The first few weeks I reacted in a way I am not proud of and honestly looking back I realize how pathetic it was. Why was not having our “things” such a big deal? It wasn’t or it really shouldn’t be. I didn’t need them to survive or to be happy. Once we replaced the basic necessities of a home like a refrigerator, washer and dryer I began to not miss my things very much at all. B and I started to play this game where we imagined we could only pick three things out of all of our material possessions. My list consisted of the things I missed the most: our down comforter, coffee and tea mugs, and my external hard drive (I can’t believe I allowed this to be packed). Those movers are quick and will pack anything when you are not looking! Bobby’s picks were much more sentimental and practical such as a memory box filled with photos and cards, his “legacy drawer” which is a filing cabinet with all of our important paperwork, and his clothes. It was an insightful game that made me realize how fortunate I actually was and I could easily live without even my top three things.
This reminded me of the yoga yama Apparigraha. Over the past year I have been studying and practicing the eight limbs of yoga, finding them applicable to all challenges life has put in front of me. Apparigraha is the last of the 5 yamas of yoga, translated as non-greed, non-possessiveness, or non-attachment. This yama refers to letting go of things that no longer serve you whether it be material possessions, emotions, expectations, memories or relationships.
“Studies of happiness have shown that it is not determined by material wealth and comfort. In fact, the more dependent we become on externals for our happiness, the less we experience satisfaction from them. The fear of loss that quickly follows the acquisition of something external affects the mind in negative way, keeping us in a constant state of dissatisfaction.”
This quote comes from True Yoga: Practicing With the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment. At the end of November our things finally arrived and while we had grown mentally less attached to our possessions we were still physically attached to a lot of things, a whole 180 boxes to be exact.
Since our things arrived 2 days before we were to leave to go home for the holidays we quickly unpacked about 70% of our boxes and left the rest for when we would return in January. I guess the universe was telling us we needed even more distance from our things. This space allowed me to realize how embracing a life of minimalism allows one to exert their time and energy into experiences and relationships instead of things.
So this year I have made a commitment to get rid of the things that no longer serve me, reducing the amount of things I purchase, practicing a perspective of abundance and focusing my energy towards relationships and experiences.
What are your goals for the New Year?
Have you made any efforts to do more with less?