I can remember it well. I was 26 and moving to Europe to complete my MBA. I had only been married a couple of years but in that short time we had managed to compile a lot of stuff. Moving to Europe meant we had to unload most of what we had accumulated because at the time we weren’t sure if we were coming back to Canada when I finished.

It was a great time of life living in a very small apartment. First in Brussels, and then later in Barcelona. We literally had little else but each other.

Yet, even when we knew we were only living in these places for a short time we still managed to again accumulate quite a few things, so inevitably the day came when we had to rid ourselves of those possessions when we started a 4 month backpacking trip through Europe.

In those 4 months all we owned in this world was on our backs. It was such a freeing experience, and I recall saying that we need to learn to live this way long term.

Sadly within a few years of moving back to Canada we had again accumulated a lot of things, as we are naturally prone to do. 6 years later we again decided to change our lives, so we downsized, got rid of a lot, and moved to Costa Rica. However, since we had three kids by then we could not get rid of everything, but we tried hard. Everything we kept fit into an 8X10 storage space for the year we were away.

But sadly upon moving back to Canada it did not take long to gather all the stuff we had tried so hard to rid ourselves of. Only three years later, in our move to the USA, it took an entire semi-truck to move us. In three years we went from our stuff fitting into 8X10 space to needing an 8X50 truck.

It is the natural path of all our lives today. We work to accumulate, and then work some more to accumulate still more. Yet, looking back on my life, I see those times of having very little as the best years of my life.

So what is the moral of the story?

Well, we know it all too well. Stuff will not make you happy, and in fact it will actually bring you stress.

The ancient Sanskrit book, The Upanishads, warns us about, “that chain of possessions wherein men bind themselves, and beneath which they sink”.

The Bible warns us, that whoever loves money will never have enough- but still we do the opposite.

Even Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; and it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

We live in a culture which tells us to value “doing well” over living well. So what are we to do? I wish I could solve the riddle myself. All I know is that it may be time to purge again. How quickly we come to that place where our possessions, possess us.

It scares me to think about giving up all my stuff, yet I don’t really have a good reason to be scared. I have a personal history that tells me it will be great. I know what it is like to be free, and I can have it again – if I am just willing to let go and once more be free.

“Cities are full of those who have been caught in monthly payments for avocado furniture sets.”

-Laurel Lee from Godspeed

-The Lone Arranger