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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Need Less and Less

If you've been with me a while you might know that I grew up in an organization that is at least a little bit cult-like. While I was growing up I heard a lot of rhetoric about not being materialistic, not being attached to things, etc.

I tried to live it. I tried to give up things because other people told me that things were not the way to happiness. It was a very deprivational /punishing thing. I loathed myself for having desires. Particularly for ever giving in to a desire.

I felt crippling guilt about owning anything, having anything, wanting anything.

When I became an adult, at some point I made the decision to follow my heart. To "follow my bliss" as Joseph Campbell says and always do what felt right. This may sound perfectly reasonable to you, but it can sound negative too. My elders might easily say, "You mean you want to be hedonistic. To follow pleasure and ignore honor and duty and right."

Words like "pleasure" and "hedonist" were pretty much the worst things you could say.

Life isn't about selfish pleasure, right? It's about dedication, duty, hard work.

For a little while I left that duty and dedication and deprivation and allowed myself to start feeling the pleasures and feeling the desires.

They might not lead to lasting happiness. But I had to find that out for myself. I had to go on the journey.

And that's the key, really.

Lots of well meaning adults tried to make me into a perfect person by teaching me all about the mistakes they felt they made, the regrets that they had. They had discovered that material possessions didn't make them happy. They wanted me to understand that. But I had no experience to draw on, could only believe what I was told.

During my twenties I found out that I couldn't be spared those mistakes (well, maybe some of them). I had to experience. I had to try and test and find out where happiness was and discover it in my own experience.

Now I find that I don't have much desire for material things. I have little clutter and less all the time. I don't feel very attached to things.

The difference is, it isn't forced.

It's just the natural development of a life lived honestly and very close to the heart. If I feel desire, if I want something, I wouldn't deny getting it (currently I'm wanting a composter!). I would no longer become angry at myself for having a desire. I don't feel deprived because I just don't need very much and I find that I don't want very much .

But I could not have come to that conclusion, and been at peace with less stuff if I hadn't tried the stuff out.

Desire isn't wrong or evil. It's natural. And it can tell us a lot about ourselves and our needs. At some point one may find desire lessening, but I don't think we can skip ahead to that part of the journey. I think we have to arrive there naturally.


  1. Really inspirational. I always feel so clogged down by clutter and things i dont really need,but struggle with getting rid of them. But you are right less is sometimes more and everyone needs to find out what they need and what desires they really dont need to endulge in...sometimes just thinking about wanting stuff is better than actual having it. An example is a big house,it looks nice but its also high maintaince,so if you cant maintain i think its ok to dream about it but must realize that having it is quite difficult. thats just how i feel about it. Same with a car,i really dont want a car because i hate dealing with gas prices,checkup and repairs. But thtas just me. Others mighty not mind as much.

    1. I think I'm lucky that I've always preferred little houses and I have no interest in cars (hate driving!) lol.

      But if you're not ready to let go of some of the clutter, that's okay too. Yeah? I know some of the things in our lives hold emotional value and it can take time to work through that.