how much is enough?

Before the recent move, I diligently went through my house, decluttering everywhere I could. My desire for simplicity really came out in anticipation of having to pack everything that my family and I own. I watched with satisfaction the growing piles designated for donation and discarding.

After the move, as I began unpacking at the new house, to my surprise I encountered a number of boxes with content that I simply had no need or desire to unpack or use again. What was odd about this, is that only a week prior, I considered these items valuable enough to bring with us.

This led me to question, how much is really enough? Where to draw the line between what we want and what we need. I thought of ancient times, when monks traveled the land with nothing more but an occasional bedroll strapped to their backs.

One may take this a step further, suggesting that we are given all that we really need in life at birth. And that anything more, is only needed to play out the roles that we assume during our lives. I believe that all of these theories hold truth.

However, in modern times we play many roles and wear many different hats (no pun intended). Our responsibilities include everything from our personal interests to family matters, to jobs and careers. Each facet of life requiring its own unique set of objects.

Giving up all of our material possessions and travelling the world may not work for everyone. The way I approached the question of how much is enough for me, is by bringing into the house just the bare essentials that I absolutely use each day.

For instance, such objects as the bed to sleep in, my laptop for work, and items of personal hygiene. For clothing, I brought what I need for cold weather (it’s winter were I am) and a few pairs of shoes. I also brought my meditation bench and a few favorite books.

The rest I left in boxes in the garage. I will try to make do with what I have now. If I find in the future that I need something else, I will bring those items into the house. This made the house somewhat more bare than even what I am used to.

It also made it spacious, clean and very well organized. There is not a single item in it that I don’t use. I find the atmosphere in it to be conducive for creating, writing and resting when needed. I decided that in six months, I will dispose of those items that I haven’t had to use. I’ll try not to even look inside the boxes.

Can I do it? I hope so. I want to see for myself, what my true needs are. I am not an ancient monk, but I suspect that we are not that different from one another. And I suspect, that I’m not that different from you. Who knows, one day this trend may grow, and material accumulation may get replaced by practical necessities.

On that day, we may find ourselves free from bondage of our possessions. On that day, instead of renting a 26’ moving truck, we can throw a bedroll over our backs and wonder the world. Or, simply enjoy life were the emphasis is not on what we own, but on who we are. That’s when we’ll truly know, how much is enough.

Live well. Vlad

10 Responses to how much is enough?

  1. Noch Noch December 11, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    Hmmm not sure whats enough for me, but i might strt doing the same, starting with my wardrobe!
    noch noch

    • Vlad December 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

      Hi noch,

      My wardrobe isn’t very extensive, but there is plenty of other stuff! Good luck to you.

      • Noch Noch December 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

        i did clean out a whole bag. off to charities who collect good condition second hand clothes for those who need them.
        feels good, this decluttering thing… :)
        Noch Noch

        • Vlad December 18, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

          The practice of letting go feels good. It only consists of a mental release, that’s the hard part… the rest is easy! Glad you like it. :-)

  2. Sheron December 11, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    “wonder the world” – how profound! Thank you.

    • Vlad December 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

      Ha, ha! Thank you Sheron!
      I wish I could take full credit, but this was a typo. However, since it resonated with you and you enjoyed it, I’m keeping it!

      • Sheron December 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

        When I read it, two things happened at once. I recognized it as a typo, and also, I saw the Colorado Rocky Mountains as a magnificent wonder of nature, so therefore, it was no longer a typo. Thanks for keeping it. I do like it.

        • Vlad December 12, 2011 at 3:04 am #

          Interesting how life can make sense based solely on our perception of it… I agree, the Rockies indeed are a wonder of nature. Thank you for reminding me. :-)

  3. Devraj May 23, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    I did the same a few years ago when I moved. Extending this approach to life in general also, keeping only those things which I need. A very nice article. Thank you!

    • Vlad Rapoport May 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      Hi Devraj,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. (Update) As expected, I never had to look for anything in those boxes. So last month, I decided to donate and throw out a bunch of stuff. It felt really great. :-)

      Take care! Vlad