It changed me forever

Living without stuff for a month

The other day, I was reading Albert’s post Freedom from Wanting and it reminded me of the time we moved to New York.

We moved to NYC in early December 2010 from Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Moving to NYC meant wrapping up everything in Eindhoven and putting most of our belongings into a container to ship it over. Since this is old-school shipping with ports and boats, it would take 3 weeks. We lived in a short–term rental in Eindhoven for a week before flying to New York. We had an empty apartment waiting for us in Brooklyn. We only had our suitcases and an air mattress we had delivered from Amazon.

Since it would take another 2 weeks before our stuff arrived, we went to IKEA and bought two Poäng chairs and a Lack table. This is how we lived; an air mattress, a couple of Ikea chairs and our suitcases.

And then the snow blizzard over Christmas happened. The container with our stuff was stuck at the pier and no truck could come to get it. Since it was holiday time, everything slowed down. We had to wait another week before they could deliver our stuff.

In the end, we spent 3 weeks in an empty apartment. We celebrated Christmas in an empty apartment. And you know what? I was fine. It was a life changing experience. You learn that you really do not need most of the stuff you own. You can make do without them and it will not impact your happiness at all. I can even attest that it increased my happiness.

When the stuff finally came, there was a sigh relief. There were some things we did miss. But since that day, I wonder with everything I own why I own it and why I would want it. Over time, I have gotten rid of 70% of my stuff. It is pretty amazing.

You might ask yourself, how is this different from going camping? It is the same in many ways except one and that this was living a normal life. I still had to get up and go to work. There was no campfire, beautiful view or hike to entertain us. We were not “one with nature”, more like “one with the noisy smelly city” which is not the same. Really.

If you ever get the chance to do this, try it. It is truly life changing. At least, for me it was.

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