I’m selling stuff.
I’m selling this. And this. And this.
If you’re arriving at conclusions about any creeping impoverishment on my part,
Because it’s not about being broke.
No no, not that at all.
In fact, it’s not that I need more money. It is, rather, that I need less stuff.
Someone once said, you don’t own things, they own you.
I’ll let you decide whether that expression is an unfortunate cliché—or not.
What I do know though; is that it’s true.
It’s true in the following sense. When I dispose of things (which has been something of a habit these last few months) I’m immediately less weighed down—I have less to take care of, less to maintain, less to store, to repair, and to insure.
When I get rid of something, I shed poundage, I feel lighter.
I suddenly walk more freely, my footprint making a smaller imprint—less of an impression.
And I like the thought of it.
There’s a movement building. It’s called minimalism. And it’s touted—with gusto—by many, right here on the web.
While I approve of the minimalist notion, I challenge—moderately—one of its tenets; the one that says try to live with less than 100 possessions.
You see, while the idea is admirable—whimsical even—its practice leaves much to interpretation—do we include all the silverware as one of the 100 possessions or do we have to count each fork and spoon individually?
But, that aside, I applaud the idea. If, for no other reason than it provides a sanity-check, a refreshing rethink, of the buy-buy-buy marketing messages we all hear much too often.
But, I have another reason for thumbing-up minimalism.
The reason is this; it’s not an original idea.
It took root elsewhere.
If you know your Thoreau, you will, no doubt, know this; Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity.
The complete quote, by the way, is; “Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million, count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”
It’s like rock n’ roll—or the blues—isn’t it? Just as Charlie Patton influenced Robert Johnson, who influenced Howlin’ Wolf, who then, in turn, begat Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones, so can minimalism be traced back to Thoreau. And, who knows, perhaps to someone before Thoreau himself.
But here’s the point.
As with minimalism, which troubles me with its hard-and-fast 100-item limit, I’m troubled—to an extent—by Thoreau’s call-to-arms, which is, on the other hand, much too vague.
And besides minimalism and simplicity, to me, are not the objectives.
To me, they are individual (and important) strategies toward a Net Present Value lifestyle.
And… If you find common ground with my position, you might, then, find advantage in this guideline; in this Net Present Value Outline for getting rid of stuff.
The Net Present Value Parameters for Getting Rid of Stuff
If you don’t use something at least monthly, do you really need it? Look around your home, take stock of what’s there. How often do you use all of what you see there? Do you truly need that second computer? That other camera? The other golf clubs? Or, as in my case, that extra car?
It may have seemed like a great idea when you bought them, but do those keepsakes mean anything now? The artwork, the stamp collection, the baseball cards, the full-size mockup of Darth Vader; do they still move you? Do you still get tingly when you see them—do they touch a nerve? Or has is it all, long ago, been relegated to the category of just stuff? If so, pass it on. Let someone else get tingly over it.
Does that carbon-fibre bicycle define you? Is it who you are? Do you really need PhotoShop CS5? Does it have purpose in how you live your life? That garage full of power tools; is that how you make your living? Or hope to make it?
If not, why do you need them? What purpose does all that serve?
One of the guitars I’m selling, I had an under-saddle piezo pickup installed. I needed it—so I rationalized—to jam with other players, or to play onstage in pubs. Well, I don’t do any of that anymore, so the pretty-cool-guitar-with-an-under-saddle-pickup doesn’t really have a purpose anymore. Time to move it on.
Think yourself tough? Tough enough to not need your ego stroked? Think about it, how many items do you possess that are there just to make you look cool? That double-neck guitar, the one that lets you nail those Jimmy-Page-chops on Stairway to Heaven; do you ever play it? Really play it? Or does it just make you look good? What about the low-slung sports car; how often does it see the light of day? Do you enjoy driving it? Or is it cramped, uncomfortable and loud? If it’s about purpose and meaningfulness, keep it. If it’s about ego, paste a For Sale sign on it.
Doing as opposed to having
This will come with practice. Because it’s only once you start getting rid of stuff, that you realize you never really needed it. Once you get rid of stuff, you tend to not to miss any of it. It may seem a contradiction but the truth is, once you get rid of stuff, you start to see you’re free to do more.
When you’re dragging (literally and figuratively) less possessions behind you, you start finding the time to do what you love, stuff that defines you, stuff that is meaningful, and stuff that makes you jump out of bed in the morning, eager to start your day. And that’s one of the biggest buzzes you’ll get—it’s a buzz that comes from living a Net Present Value lifestyle.
Ideas? Suggestions? Questions? Please leave a comment.