While many people may still dream about that ‘big house with a white picket fence and a back yard with a swing set’ type of life, I am pursuing a ‘live out of two suitcases’ lifestyle. The truth is, I never had a desire for a big house or any other elements included in that sort of existence, that seem to come as a package (marriage, mortgage, kids). If that is true for some, then I hope they get that and are truly happy. But it’s not my reality, and that’s fine. At least we have this freedom left—to decide what we want to do with our lives, to the best of our abilities and within the given circumstances.
In a way I’m starting late, in a way I’ve been somewhat doing it for a couple of years and in another way I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it the way I envisioned it. But this doesn’t mean I’ll give up. If there is one good thing among all the fears and anxiety that come with being a human, it’s the fact that most of us have hope until the last moment. A while back I donated (mostly to friends) about 70% of my belongings—from objects, clothes, and shoes to books, blankets and suitcases. Because I had collected them over many years and I had attached meaning and memories to pretty much all of them, giving everything away was not easy at all. On the other hand, it was a cathartic experience in the sense of freeing myself from the obscure burden of being (overly) attached to things.
Freedom and flexibility
One thing worth mentioning is that my ideal light-weight lifestyle requires some considerable adjustments to the concepts of work and relationships. It’s clearly not for those who want that big house bundle. But if you want freedom and flexibility in terms of what, when and where you work, this is a (more than) decent option. It’s not just about working the number of hours you want, distributed however you want and doing what you love, but also about doing that from an island in Asia or moving across the globe for something that is worth pursuing, in a matter of days or weeks. After all, you only have two suitcases to pack and maybe give a notice to a landlord.
For this to happen in such an ideal manner, you probably need to be self-employed, own an online business of sorts or be incredibly rich. I wouldn’t say no to the third one, but for now I’ll go with one of the first two. Another less exciting aspect of this plan is the extra amount of admin work you’d have to do for yourself—decide your country of residency, file taxes, bookkeeping, and other ones depending on whether you also own a business and so on. If you can afford it, you can pay others to do these tasks for you. The point is, it takes more logistics and planning to get there, but I think it’s totally worth it.
Practicality and sustainability
I’m all about practicality, from the design and usage of objects or software to ways of doing things or even thinking about things. For me, having a ‘handful’ of things to worry about (packing and taking with me instead of shipping and wondering when and if they arrive) is more practical. Having a rental agreement instead of a 30-year mortgage with loads of bills and responsibilities is more practical. Being flexible enough to show up for the opportunity of a lifetime on a different continent in two weeks is more practical. Being paperless, backed-up and organized online is not only more practical but also more environmentally friendly. The list goes on, you get the point.
Speaking about the environment, I find a minimalist low-waste lifestyle to be better for our wellbeing (psychological and emotional) and our home planet. Having a box full of memories, some useful things (like a power bank) and a few clothes and shoes reasonably represents the essentials. It’s amazing to realize how little we actually need in order to live well and be happy. However, if you need a partner, good luck finding one who wants the same things. I’m not saying they don’t exist, I’m just saying you now have a few continents where you can look for them.
Focus and perspective change
When you embrace living life the “less is more” way, you declutter your physical space, you make time for what matters by eliminating distractions and useless or even toxic activities. Most of all, you create the space and freedom to find what is truly important and worthy of your focus, time and energy. I guess this is the basis for intentionally choosing and building an aligned existence—between who you are and what you own, your values and priorities, and what you think, do and say.
A perspective change also takes place. You begin to understand how owning and managing less is allowing you to live more intensely, give from the heart and feel deeper. Everything we need is within us—our mind, heart, soul and even our health. Everything else is a bonus and an opportunity to be present when and where it matters most.
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Photo: Belinda Fewings via Unsplash; Becca Tapert via Unsplash