It’s now been over 5 years since that fateful day, January 11, 2017, the day that I was watching the Minimalism documentary on Netflix and had a lightning bolt moment.
In an instant, I realized that the reason we weren’t able to travel as much as we wanted, was because we had surrounded ourselves with too much stuff.
With my jaw agape, and almost in shock, I slowly looked around the room that I was in. As my eyes scanned the overstuffed shelves, my gaze shifting from one thing to the next, I realized with the utmost clarity that none of it mattered anymore, and I needed to get rid of it. All of it.
I let out an incredulous laugh. I stared at the screen, the film still playing, but the volume was muffled by the loud thunderous roar going on in my head. ‘Could it really be this easy?’ I couldn’t help but think. ‘Is it truly just my stuff that is holding me back in life?’
When I started to evaluate all that I had, I realized that its importance, in comparison to something as important as traveling, was next to nothing. Here I was, 40 years of age, and I had spent my whole life filling it with all of these things. All of these things, presumably, were meant to distract me and keep my mind occupied. They were meant to fill a void. But I now realize that that void would never be filled with stuff. The only way to fill that void was to let go of these things that were holding me back and to set out into the world to do the one thing that I deemed the most important for my happiness, to travel.
Looking back, it’s something I should have done from the start. I traveled extensively in my youth with my parents. In my late teens and early twenties, I started to go on my own trips. I even organized a trip to the Base Camp of Mount Everest for 7 friends, when I was just 19 years old! Even back then I had aspirations to be a travel writer. I wanted to share my travel adventures with the world.
But, like so many of us, life got in the way. Some way, somehow, I decided that I needed to get married, buy a house, and fill it with stuff. I can see so clearly now the wrong direction that I took, but like all things in life, it is pointless to have regrets.
The best time to start traveling full time is before you accumulate stuff, the second best time to do it is when you realize that you don’t need all of your stuff.
Within days, my partner and I started the huge task of getting rid of things. First, we simply would walk around the house, plucking items off of shelves and throwing them in a box. We started with the most meaningless items, silly decorations that neither of us had an attachment to, and left the items that felt difficult.
Our rule was that once an item went in a box, we would not look in the box or take anything back out unless it was to be sold or donated. Over time, the initial items that seemed hard to put in the box got easier and easier.
The boxes were stored in our basement, out of sight and temptation.
I started photo albums on Facebook and photographed all items that we were getting rid of. Album titles were “Clothing For Sale”, “Ornaments For Sale”, “Books For Sale”, etc. Below the item would be a description and a price. I became a machine, constantly posting items, checking messages, and organizing pick-ups or drop-offs.
It was the sole focus of our lives, and we took it very seriously.
We held 6 different yard sales over the course of the spring and summer that year. Each one getting more and more attention as people started to realize what we were up to. I’m sure many didn’t believe us or take us seriously. But we knew how serious we were, and we went ahead guns a-blazing.
Our rule was that if items had been in 2-yard sales, and hadn’t sold there, or on Facebook, they would go to the thrift store for donation. After each sale, we would load up the van and cart it off the very next morning. There was no time to ponder or wonder, we knew that it had to go.
Of course, during this time, I had a meltdown or two. “What if we get to where we are going and I just cry because we have nothing.” I wailed one day to my partner.
Thankfully, these instances were short-lived as he would talk me back down off the ledge of regret that I seemed to teeter on once in a while. I realize now, that it is all part of the process.
Anytime that we take big chances in life, we experience moments of paralyzing fear. It is all part of the process, and it is important to take the time to recognize those moments for what they are, but do not let them dissuade you. Turn them into fuel and face those fears head-on with strength and determination, because, at the end of the day, there is simply no easy way to do this. It is only up to you to make the decisions that need to be made, and there is never a right or wrong way to do it.
In 9 short months, we had accomplished what some think to be impossible, and we were winging our way south to Costa Rica where we had a housesitting job lined up on the beach.
Was it all worth it? Hell yes!
Do we miss our stuff? Hell no!
Hi there, we are 2 Canadians, Jill and Chris from Artistic Voyages. We have been nomadic since 2017 living in numerous different countries, and experiencing the life and diversity of our planet on the ground and firsthand. We have now been on the African continent for over 2 years!
Join our adventure by hitting the links below!
About the Creator
Hi there, we are Jill and Chris from Artistic Voyages! We sold all of our possessions in 2017 and have been traveling ever since. We paint murals as we travel, and aim to spread love through our art. We have now been in Africa for 2+ years!
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
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