Yesterday I was confronted with the reality of how much stuff I have in my home that I hardly ever use (and this is coming from a self-confessed minimalist!) A friend’s sister had lost all of her household contents in a fire caused by an electrical fault. She is a young mother of two boys who lost her husband only 8 months ago in a car accident. Thankfully, she, her children and mother are unhurt. It must be devastating for her to realise that every last thing, including photographs and personal papers, is gone. As I went through my cupboards looking for linen and kitchenware, I was comparing my situation to hers and was reminded of how much we have. I was able to gather together a decent number of items for her and her family, most of which I will probably never miss.
This got me thinking about how much we really need to live our lives comfortably. In my twenties I went over to the UK on a working holiday visa and lived out of a backpack for nearly 18 months. I did accumulate a few things that got left with friends when I went travelling, but I was able to manage with surprisingly little. When I moved to Canada a few years later, for six months all of my belongings fitted into a backpack and a suitcase. It was actually quite liberating to know that life can go on fairly happily without being encumbered by too many things. Of course, as soon as I got a flat of my own and my boxes from South Africa arrived, I settled back into the comfort of having my things around me!
There is nothing wrong in having a comfortable home, but we need to be careful not to invest too much of ourselves in our things to the point that we cannot live without them. The key to living simply is to hold our ‘stuff’ lightly, to recognise that the important things in life are not our belongings, but those we love and cherish. So maybe have a look around your home today and ask yourself if you really need all you have. And if you know someone who could make better use of it, make their day!