The lid of the bin is closing with a clap of thunder. I’m smiling and feeling fabulous. Apart from a dead spider I nearly touched. I’m picking another bag and put it in my car to bring it to a welfare institution. Back home I’m drinking fresh, cold milk. I’m happy about nothing. Finally there’s nothing. The “nothing” of things I had never used and needed anyway.
If there was a fire burning in my house now, all I would have to do was take my notebook, my camera, and a box full of personal
letters and souvenirs - and I would have saved 90 percent of all things that matter to me.
This is an anthem to Nothing. And how “Nothing” allows me to do everything I always wanted to do.
“You need to check out how many bags you’re allowed to bring on your plane to the US”, a friend told me in the summer of 2016. “You’ll need a lot of stuff while being on the road for four months.” I started to check sizes and prices. Should I buy an XL or XXL bag? Then I thought about the thing with my CD’s and DVD’s – more about that soon – and ordered a red bag with white dots that was described as “a perfect bag for one week”.
When the small bag arrived, I started to worry. At first, I wanted to test it by taking it on a two-weeks-road-trip across Ireland. The night before I flew into Dublin I did something I loved to do as a child: I tried to get myself entirely into the bag and finally even close it. I’m round about 5’25” and after ten minutes of pain I managed it to close the bag from the inside. If I was able to fit into this bag, everything else I needed for two weeks would fit inside as well! I climbed out of the bag by dying on the floor in front of it. But I made it.
Back home from Ireland I realized that I did not miss a thing although I’d left behind many things I usually took with me on the trips before. So I decided to keep the bag and buy no bigger one for my four-month-trip across the US. Challenge accepted! After I’d been on the US-roads for two months, even this small bag became an annoying brick. I often hid it in the car under some blankets, so I did not have to carry it into the motel rooms all the time. The only thing I needed was a backpack. Not a typical backpacker-backpack with tents and sleeping bags hanging down like tinsel. Just a small one with the most important things I needed. Hell, this is minimalist, isn’t it? No it’s not. I was standing in front the Grand Canyon and all I really needed was my camera, water and some sunscreen. I was happy to bits.
Years ago there was I time when I went to the shopping mall as soon as a new DVD has arrived and bought it. Everybody bought the new movie on DVD. Because you simply do so. This is the reason why you’re working every day, isn’t it?
It is something I did not really question for a long time. Because I grew up in a country
where it is common to work, earn money and buy stuff like clothes, phones, furniture, cars. CD’s and DVD’s.
But I have always been a kid asking “why?” again and again. And one day the question hit me like a miner that was digging louder and deeper every day. Why. Why did I buy all this stuff? Of course, it made me happy for a while. But it also made me go to work all day to earn back the money I’d spent. And this again shortened the time I would have needed to use all the things I’d bought. I was pretty young (too young) when I realized this fact for the first time. This crazy circle running hot and destroying itself for no particular reason. When I was older, I read an essential quote from Ellen Goodman.
I don’t buy CD’s and DVD’s anymore just because they are on sale. Whenever I see clothes in windows I ask myself if I really do need them of if I just think they were beautiful. Because beautiful is not enough anymore. If I break things, I try to fix them. Sometimes I do buy old things to pep them with my favorite style and colors. Today you can find me more often on flea markets than in shopping malls. I don’t see a reason to buy new things without a soul while I can find real treasures someone else has thrown away. Why.
After I’ve started to live along this philosophy, my system seemed to reboot itself. I started to buy less. I had more money left. I started to travel more and more. I felt happiness and satisfaction in a way I’d never felt before. At 26, I lived my childhood dream and traveled the US for four months in a car all by myself. At 27, I could stop working 40 hours a week.
Today I do not only buy less but also throw or give away stuff. It is a challenge – like the one with the bag. Accepted! The more I throw away, the less I do miss, the less I do need, the less I do waste. My meaning of life came off from things and pinned itself to experiences, memories, emotions and adventures.
Before I started to revolt against owning stuff I said things like: “I couldn’t do something like that! I would have to give up on too many things!” To me there are two important points:
1. You always need to try to find out if you actually could manage something or not. Always. It’s something far beyond being brave enough riding on a roller coaster. It’s touching your attitude towards life. Sometimes it hurts like crawling into a small bag.
2. What does really mean the world to you? I mean – really. Try to imagine the things you would grab or do if your house was on fire. Or if it was the very last day of your life. Then ask yourself “why?”. Also, think about the things you would leave behind – and why?
Next to many things that that became unimportant to me there are of course things I absolutely do need and love. Without some of them my adventures and experiences weren’t even possible.
Well, I’m happy I only wanted to tell you about five things. Because even after I’ve thought about it for another 15 minutes I can’t think of anything else. Two months from now I will pick my backpack again to travel around for the whole summer. I can’t stop thinking about this. YAY!