I once had what many would consider “All.” The white picket fence, a house, multiple toys such as cars and a motorcycle, even the successful career and financial independence. I had it all, but in reality I had nothing but loneliness and increased responsibility. I chased false ideals, instilled with the values of others, in the pursuit of filling a void, of doing my part to contribute and live up to my duties and obligations. After all, wasn’t life and success measured by such standards? Wasn’t it ultimately required to gain status which in return would bring acceptance from society. Wouldn’t your worth be determined by your achievements in material bliss?
After many years of fulfilling these ideals that were never mine to begin with, I started to uncover layer by layer, peeling back, simplifying my life in the pursuit of true and satisfactory meaning. Not the satisfaction of others, but the satisfaction and bliss of my own. It took courage but I can truly say that it was me making those changes. That it was me in charge. Changes that spanned over many years, but changes that made a difference over time and ultimately led to this point.
It started with becoming my best friend and caring about myself in a way I never had before. Society teaches us that we are selfish when we look after ourselves and too often we feel the pressure to put ourselves last. It took time to shed those beliefs and to muster the courage for a self love of the deepest care. I overcame the fear of being judged, misunderstood, and categorized. How you wonder did I do this? It wasn’t that hard once you realize that those things are not in your control anyways and happen regardless.
Life started to simplify once I’ve left the hectic retail management career behind. Not initially but eventually and I adjusted to a lesser income and also needing less, although the mortgage and the house represented a huge challenge. Material possessions started to lose their value and I realized that I simply had too much of a good thing and that those things didn’t make me happy. All those things that once earned status did nothing more than weigh me down in way that it felt like I was carrying a huge burden that was threatening to crush me.
Then there was still the matter of where I belong to and being torn between two countries. I had fought this battle with my estranged mother for nearly 30 years while she was alive. And what about my marriage that for the past 20 years was merely existing on paper, as roommates, sharing obligations and responsibilities! A failure that had to be faced. A love once close as best friends but now lost and history.
I continued to simplify my life in whichever way I could. I simply felt called to do so even if I didn’t have all the answers or knew how the story was going to develop. I was on my way to becoming a minimalist. Every possession had to hold value and meaning, it had to bring joy, otherwise it wasn’t needed. Slowly but surely I eliminated everything I used to cling to. Everything I had worked for all my life.
In the end, the house was sold, including one of my cars and my motorcycle. “Stuff” was donated or garage sale’d for a fraction of their worth and value. My life was summarized with a few pieces of furniture and around 60 boxes which a huge part was my crafting supplies for my Etsy products. A 24ft travel trailer would become my temporary but current home, teaching me to simplify at new levels. Thank goodness the process had started already and I wasn’t a total newcomer to it. Prior efforts would come in handy and prove themselves as useful.
These days most of my garments would be washed with the delicate cycle, meaning that I would wash them by hand, stringing them to dry on a clothing line behind the trailer, I called my backyard space. Old fashioned and like Mom used to do. I took comfort and offset the lost luxury of a washing machine by buying the best smelling laundry detergent I could find. I loved it and it even was soothing to my hands to work the suds. The wring cycle was a different story and I had to strain getting my hands to do the task. Yet I took comfort in the simple life although someone else could have easily labeled it a harder life. These days I was lugging water instead of getting it filtered out of the refrigerator. Cleaning the tiny abode was a breeze, but some spaces were absolutely tiny and required to step sideways around the bed when fixing the sheets. The fridge was on the small side too, but luckily I’ve always enjoyed playing Tetris and I was good at making things fit.
Life simplified day by day, stripped off modern conveniences, but happier and more fulfilled. And I was lucky to be in a place where others truly cared about each other. Having a neighbor drive by while being outside, asking if I needed anything from the store was a new one for me. How many years had I lived in my house and barely knowing anything about my neighbors that seemed to flee at the sight of anyone to avoid any chat or conversation.
I brought a jar of my Dragons-Blood elixir (Elderberry syrup) to one of my neighbors, an older lady, living by herself. Like me she is into holistic healing and a natural approach to balance deficiencies. She was so delighted and grateful, showed me her small herb garden and finally sent me on my way with a hand full of organic herbs. Some of which I used to cook and spice my meal that evening, adding the most amazing flavor to my meal. Later that evening I was still thinking about the kindness and the two gestures I had encountered. I remembered walking home, holding the herbs tight as to not lose a single stem. I felt emotional from a bunch herbs and I carried them as if they were my greatest treasure. Faith in humanity was restored and those simply acts made all the difference for me. Would somebody understood if I told them, or would they think that I have completely lost it? Would they understand the excitement about thunder and rain, to listen to it hit the metal roof? Could someone envision the joy derived from it? I contemplated the outcome for a moment, smiled, and nodded knowing it truly wouldn’t matter one way or another. This was my moment, something that had meaning to me and it didn’t require to be understood nor approved by others. It was simplicity at new levels that filled my heart, and this time was about me and only me.