I dislike stuff. My goal is to have as few physical fetters as possible without giving up my ability to navigate the modern world and all it has to offer. My general philosophy is the “car trunk” principle: I should be able to fit everything I physically own inside whatever car I own.
Going by just my own stuff, I’m wildly successful in this regard. (I say “my own stuff” because my wife and children pointedly do not live by this principle – though my oldest child has adopted it mostly, and I love her for it.) This is easy for me while it’s hard for so many other people simply because for me it isn’t a sacrifice – I actually hate stuff. Clutter. Junk. I have zero sentimental attachment to objects. I throw greeting cards away as soon as they’re read. Presents from my kids put up a noble fight, but I explain to them the temporary nature of all things, and how objects are meant to serve a purpose for a time, and then we grow out of them. Very few things are permanent.
Therefore, I have certain criteria when it comes to new objects entering my life. The following kinds of objects get a pass, and in fact are even welcome:
- Objects that eliminate 2+ other objects. Things that have many purposes and can thus allow me to get rid of even more stuff are quite welcome.
- Objects that increase my overall freedom. I like having a car for this reason. If it were viable for me to own and maintain a plane or boat, I’d probably do so.
- Objects that are especially durable, and thus serve their purpose for a long time without me having to think about them. Unobtrusive objects. I’ve owned the same pair of excellent boots for sixteen years.
While I absolutely believe that what is right for me is not necessarily right for anyone else, my experience has taught me that almost everyone has too much stuff. You could pick one object you have – a shirt you don’t wear, something in a drawer, a gadget you haven’t used in ages – and ditch it, and your life would be better. Every object has a cost – not just to obtain, but to keep owning. A cost in space, a cost in freedom. You could always do more with space and freedom.
Travel lighter, my friend.