Over the winter holiday, my husband and I traveled to Italy. We would be away for five weeks and I was determined to travel as light as possible (in winter), take just a carry-on and my small backpack. I carefully curated a couple of mix-and-match outfits, brought one pair of riding boots, then wore my winter coat and tennis shoes on the plane, and brought a bunch of toiletries and my computer. One carry-on and one backpack, done! This kind of downsizing really suited me. I could easily keep track of everything and carry my own gear from place to place, reducing concern about the safety of my things. Each day I wore almost the same thing, covered up by my winter jacket. At the end of the week, we would do a small load of wash and hung our clothes to dry.
When we got home from our trip, I noticed that without the confines of a suitcase I was a tad overwhelmed at the amount of stuff I have. I found myself wanting to wear the same Italy outfits because the process was simple and it saved me time. Now the laundry was swiftly accumulating and I was back to my routine of washing two or three times a week. Wash, dry, fold. Repeat.
By simplifying one task, pre-planning my outfits, I gained a coveted resource: time. In turn, I spent that time on things that felt truly enriching such as a relaxing coffee and croissant breakfast, sight-seeing in the hill towns of Tuscany, reading and researching our surroundings, cooking a home-made dinner.
I can see clearly now how things take up our time – that is, acquiring things, having things and maintaining them, all requires a huge chunk of our time.
Time is our most precious gift on this earth. It’s a non-renewable resource. We cannot get even one second back. “Possessions are worse than worthless – they’re harmful…and cost you everything.” Lesson learned: Be sure the things that take my time are worthy of giving it away.
I certainly plan to continue to own stuff (I’m not quite at a minimalist level yet…) but I hope this awareness will help me improve my household habits when it comes to purchasing, maintaining, reusing, reducing and decluttering.
I’m kind of missing that one-bag lifestyle. Guess I’ll have to take another trip to Italy!
Check out this: Living Lightly With the One-Bag Lifestyle, by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits