I have been thinking a lot about less lately.
Maybe this is natural as I get older, maybe it’s an overall shift in our culture (which would be a good thing); but I have been moving towards less stuff in my life, longing for more focus.
I have realized that there is direct connection (for me at least) between clutter and unrest. I am a simple man, yet I have slowly moved toward complex living in a sense. At the center, I know that which is truly treasure: My wife, my children, my family, my friends, and my faith; these are of the utmost value to me, my top-tier treasure if you will. Other things that bring me fulfillment are a job well done, playing guitar, writing songs, writing blogs (presently partaking in this one), and hiking/running among other things; these would be my next tier of treasure in my life. interesting thing is the lack of things in these lists.
If that which I value most is free of charge, and available constantly; why have I spent so much time shopping for, and accumulating stuff? I believe that this has very deep roots for me, which go back to my childhood. I have grown up telling myself that I am a “collector”. I have saved and taken care of comic books, sports cards, toys, Lord of the Rings memorabilia (nerd alert), amongst many other items. I have spent money on these, and I have wrapped a part of my identity in these. Some of the reasons for this may lie deeply rooted in my psyche, and may need professional help to diagnose; but I won’t drag you all down that rabbit hole in this blog.
I truly believe that starting as young as a child, I began to be drawn by the thrill of “the purchase.” I have accustomed myself to shopping, holding high value on that which I purchase; and worked hard to earn money to spend and these things that I would keep undamaged in their packages, holding on to some sort of hope some day that I would pass along a fortune to my kids. Well, that is not reality anymore folks! Through eBay, I realized that thousands of other people have held on to those same items I have, and are all trying to sell them. That means a flooded market, and that drives down the value of those items.
I would like to believe though, that it is more than just a market flooded by collectibles that has driven down the market. I believe that all of us are experiencing a shift in our world. Our eyes are being opened to the impact of consumerism, and the rippling effects that it has on our environment. The more we consume, the more waste there is. The more we continue to spend, the more we will be marketed to. We are hopefully realizing that it is the quality of what we have and do more than the quantity.
There is a great scene near the end of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (Spoiler alert!) takes place between Captan Barbosa and Carina Smyth. As the story unfolds to the audience, we find that Carina is actually Barbosa’s long lost daughter. The moment at which she realizes that this Pirate is willing to sacrifice himself for her she asks:
“Tell me, what am I to you?”
Barbosa replies, “Treasure.”
Barbosa was a pirate, a life full of taking more and more, gathering and spending his “plunder”. At the end of all things, he sees what is truly valuable, and makes the greatest decision in his life based on that which he found to be true “treasure”.
Well now I’m all teary eyed, but I hope you get the point.
Let us seek that which is truly valuable in our life; and may our actions, time, and purchases reflect our true passion.