There’s something strange about being back in the grips of the town you grew up in. It feels familiar, yet totally unfamiliar. I have so many memories of this place being my home, but now that I’ve been away for so long, it really doesn’t feel much like home anymore.
For the first time in over six years, I am living in my old bedroom in my childhood home. When we decided we were going to spend the summer here, I had this idea that all the memories of my formative years would come flooding back to me and I would feel like I belong here again. The truth is, I can barely remember who that person was. It’s funny to realize how much I have grown and changed in what seems like such a short amount of time.
Since we won’t see our families for a year once we head to Turkey, we wanted to spend the summer with them. Most of it will be spent at my mom’s in Pittsburg, but we are hoping to also spend some time with my grandparents, my dad, and my in-laws before school starts.
So far, it’s been a little hard to adjust to not working (I have tried to set my alarm out of habit several times) and to not having our own space. We hardly have any access to our stuff at the moment because it’s all piled in boxes in the garage. On the bright side, this will be excellent practice for the minimalist lifestyle we hope to lead in Turkey and I should have plenty of time to catch up on some much-needed reading. I also have a pool date lined up with my sweet nieces and lots of my old favorite restaurants to re-visit.
I might as well soak up the downtime while I can, because it’s about to get crazy. In the next week or so, we will find out which classes we are teaching and will continue the crazy visa process. Until then, I guess I‘ll just get back to my book.
I have been fascinated and encouraged by the recent trend toward minimalism. From capsule wardrobes to tiny houses, it seems that more people are seeing that less really is more. Less stuff means more time to spare because you’re not constantly picking up after yourself. It means more money because you’re not impulse buying knick knacks that you will inevitably put in a garage sale in a couple of years after you realize you never really used it. It means more freedom to explore things that really matter, like learning something new, being a better person, or challenging yourself because you aren’t so worried about keeping up with the Joneses.
Though I’m a bit of a hoarder by nature (particularly with clothes), the prospect of an international move has really opened my eyes and has me embracing the minimalist movement. With each item that I place in the “do not keep” pile, I feel a little lighter and more liberated (and, if I’m being honest, a little disgusted with myself for having so much in the first place). By the end, I am hoping to have just enough to fill a suitcase or two and nothing more.
This whole process has made me realize how indoctrinated we are into consumerist culture. Society/Advertising/Media/Big Brother/Whatever you want to call it tells us that having stuff will make you happy, so you always find yourself wanting more. I now firmly believe that the desire to acquire things – whether it’s that fancy new car you’ve been eying or a massive shopping spree – comes from a deeper feeling of emptiness inside oneself. Buying things, especially on impulse, is a form of instant gratification that feels very good for a little while, but again, only leaves you wanting more. As the late, great George Carlin said, “Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.” The moment I began taking real steps toward following my dreams was the moment that stuff started not to matter so much anymore. Stuff doesn’t nurture the soul; happiness does, and real happiness only comes from doing what you love and being who you want to be.
I am far from a perfect minimalist and I still have a while to go before I reach my final goal, but I have been amazed at how easy it is for me to let go these days. I am looking forward to having less and doing more; wanting less and being more. I will continue to embrace my minimalist journey and hope to encourage others to reevaluate their lives and fill their hearts with things that matter. If we all learn to move away from “stuff”, we might just move a little closer to ourselves.