Written by guest blogger, Penny Wolff:
I had more handbags than friends, more shoes than relatives. There was a time this didn’t bother me at all. I aspired to have these things; my thoughts were consumed with the attainment of more and more. More beautiful, more expensive, more socially coveted…
I bought them for myself with the money I earned from working. I wasn’t in debt, carelessly buying these items on credit cards or living beyond my means, I was responsible. I worked at a job that was always great on paper, middle management in a large corporation. I worked with nice people, I was able to do my work without too much stress, I didn’t have to sacrifice more than my 40 hours a week so it all seemed fine, almost good. And I had a closet full of pretty things. A life rich with things.
The shift started after I lost my mother and I had to go through her things and somehow determine their worth and value. What got thrown away, given to friends or family and what did I have to keep? Everything she owned had value to her but what was it worth to me? Without sentiment or purpose what are things truly worth? They are just things after all.
Bringing home the items of hers that I decided were valuable to me I took them up to put them into my already full closet of things. Sitting there that day amongst an overwhelming number of material objects that were so precariously stacked that at any moment then could fall down on me and smother me I realized I was suffocating my life with things.
I decided to stop with the things right then and there. I had too much. Not only were they not making me happy it had become a burden. I saw all those things hanging lifelessly, rarely touched or even taken out and they were as dead as they made me feel inside. But now what, without the pursuit of things what was I doing? I realized I needed to shift my focus and almost immediately it became glaringly obvious my life wasn’t fine. The job I had for over 10 years wasn’t fulfilling me on any level beyond providing me with the funds to buy my things.
I spent the next few months trying to find my new path, where to go now. It was hard at first until I heard this echo in my ears –
“This is you and me, you’re my human heat and the things are only things and nothing brings me like you bring me”
and realized it was human heat, human connection that I wanted to fill my life with. The things hadn’t filled a void, they created one. I was isolated in a world that revolved around objects where people were secondary.
“I didn’t need these things, I didn’t need them, tear them all to bits, turned ’em outside in and I left them on the floor and ran for dear life for the door.”
Soon after that I decided to dedicate my time, my money and my heart to the pursuit of real human connection. Focusing on the relationship I had been hiding from all along with myself. It’s a journey letting go of all the things that distract us from where our focus should be. I never realized how uncomfortable this concept would be for some people to understand, how appalled people can be when I tell them I don’t have a flat screen TV or even worse that I don’t want one. But most importantly I now know I’m the kind of person who simply doesn’t care!