The simple things

by Kasey McMahon on December 7, 2012

Ten months since leaving Los Angeles. Ten months since getting rid of nearly all of my worldly possessions. From a 2200 square foot loft full of tools, art, supplies and curiosities down to a few bags and a newly nomadic existence.

I didn’t know what it would feel like to leave all of those things behind. I wondered if I would regret it.

A few people have asked if I miss all of those things. I’m somewhat surprised that the answer is no. I don’t miss them at all. It is so odd to pull completely out of that world, but so refreshing.

I do miss the people. I miss my two cats – thank goodness they have an amazing home. And I miss my library. That’s it. All the other stuff simply doesn’t matter.

It was freeing to pare down to the bare minimum. I know where everything is now. I only have things I really need. One of my favorite bloggers (raptitude.com) sums it up well: “I don’t want stuff any more, only things.” After getting rid of so much, the surprising thing to me is that I don’t find myself wanting more. I actually want less. Because what I do own matters now. Everything has a purpose.

It’s also a welcome change to not feel so defined by my environment. In LA, my loft was a very expressive space – a wonderful, at times magical, creative place. A curiosity cabinet. But redirecting that energy into different experiences and mediums is fulfilling in ways I couldn’t have even imagined. My energy is now more focused on collecting ideas and images versus tangible items.

All of this forced a substantial perspective shift. I’ve always liked ‘things’. Shiny things, fancy things, weird things – there are a lot of things to ogle, crave and collect in the world. I was a product of our consumer driven culture. Navigating in the complete opposite direction was not easy, but after months of consciously pulling away, it now feels natural.

My creative world is now enclosed in a laptop – nearly all digital at this point. The only thing I struggle with is the e-reader. I miss the tactile nature of books and am very thankful for libraries.

Had you told me a year ago that I would be here, nomadic, temporarily in a tiny ghost town in the mountains, owning so little, I wouldn’t have believed it. But I wouldn’t go back. There’s much freedom in a lighter load and not craving material things. I don’t want more stuff. I simply don’t need it. And I seem to be happier with less.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
~ H.D. Thoreau

(One “simplify” would have been enough.)
~ R.W. Emerson

Leaving LA opened my eyes to the fact that life doesn’t need to be structured with so many stressors, that my possessions or my past work don’t define me. The present moment matters. What I’m working towards matters. Interactions matter. It’s not about the stuff, it’s about the way we carry ourselves each day, about the lives we touch by simply being who we are in the world.

I’d forgotten life could be lived very differently. I hope to always remember it.

 

Kasey McMahon

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