My Brooklyn friends are rolling on the floor laughing at the title of this post. Believe it or not - and embarrassing enough - I was once that bitch that saved for months to buy the Balenciaga triple S sneakers. I spent all my savings on fucking sneakers.
This was a byproduct of living in New York City for 4 years. Or this is what I tell myself to front this episode lol. Fast forward 2022, I’m in Nepal and I own nothing.
When I started traveling 5 years ago and leaving off a suitcase, my perception of possession started shifting. I joke around and say that I'm a minimalist maximalist; even as a nomad I would carry the most absurd shit in my luggage. My favorite teapot, huge platform boots, wigs, etc. I was (and still am) so attached to my "favorite things". AH. The paradox. Join me in this rabbit hole on un-fucking the romantic idea of minimalism that we have believed in.
The art of evaluating "necessity". It's been a dream of mine to live off a small backpack for a long time. No checked luggage, everything you own on your back. I’ve thought about why it has been so hard to take the decision, and I encountered the controversy of minimalism; the more minimal you become, the more attached you are to your few possessions.
De-attachment vs minimalism
De-attachment vs minimalism: absolute opposites. (I might be very wrong lol!).
I'll expand: you're a minimalist, which means you're going to have less things. You have one pen, and that is your favorite pen. The one you've selected among all your other pens. When you're a minimalist, your fewer possessions are your favorites. If you were to lose that pen, you would be quite upset. This is the minimalist burden. In de-attachment, there are no favorites: you own a pen because it's useful. If you loose that pen, you couldn't care less. You get a new pen. This is the de-attached freedom.
I still think that minimalism is way more sustainable that living a consumeristic life where you don't even notice your favorite something is gone because you have so many things. Who's to say what's right, but I know it will take me more than a small backpack to live a life in de-attachment.
Re-evaluating the meaning of "possessions"
I think this tiny backpack is a medium to de-attach from physical things. Packing it has been an exercise to evaluate my own definition of possession.
The whole reason why I want to own less shit is because I want to own less. As in the verb to own, to possess. My mind is set on living a life where I cherish things that would slip through my fingertips if I tried to grasp on them, if I tried to possess them. Memories, travels, true connections, music, art, spirituality. This things cannot be owned, these can only be felt. Just like a fist full of sand.
The possession muscle
Ha ha ha. Hear me out. Maybe there’s a part of our brain that regulates our perception of possessions. Like a muscle in our brain. Whenever we feel like buying something, that muscle gets stronger. Who knows! But it kinda feels like that; the more we get into the consumeristic flow, the more we believe in it.
It's so absurd when we think about it. We feel like we need to "brand" ourselves, as if we needed to reflect (or make up) what's inside with what's outside. I feel like when we feel the need to buy something is not because we love the object per se, it's because we fall in love with the idea of owning the object. Oh wow, these pants are so me. Might as well stay on brand!!!!
Jung calls this the persona, the façade or mask we put on and show the world so we can fulfill society's expectations. The more I've thought about this whole minimalistic shit, the more I'm thinking it is another way to stay "on brand". It's also a look, a trend, more than it is a philosophy. And I say this as a graphic designer that loves minimalistic design. It's a way to justify obsessing over objects, in my very personal opinion.
De-attaching is so simple: what's complicated is trying to keep up with society's expectations and all the bullshit we want to believe about necessities. It all strips down to being content to what you have on the inside, so you don't feel the need to decorate the outside like a christmas tree.
How I feel these days with my tiny ass backpack
This Nepal small backpack mission has been very life changing, and it's only been a month. The process started since I took the decision back in Venezuela, and I started giving away most of my shit. I didn't want this to be an optical thing; I am working towards de-attaching from physical matter, and the backpack is the best practice I've had in a while.
I feel: soooooo light. Physically and mentally. My day-to-day has become extremely simple. And the feeling of being able to recall everything I own has been the most refreshing feeling I've had in a while.
I don't know!! Maybe getting rid of stuff opens mental space for other experiences to enter my realm. I (physically) don't have space for shopping, collecting, and other material behaviors at this point of my life. Not having these activities as available as before makes me look for other ways to fulfill what a pair of sneakers would have fulfilled back in the Brooklyn days.
Every day is an exercise in letting go. Until death, which is the ultimate letting go: you let go of your physical body.
This is what the buddhists train for; to be prepared to leave this world free from all (material) suffering in order to escape re-incarnation and attain Nirvana.
Wouldn't it make so much sense to try to gradually shed material things as we approach that moment? The conclusion here is that de-attachment will allow you to have so much mental space that otherwise would be occupied with this non-sensical obsession to brand ourselves with material goods.
Who knows, maybe this lightness I feel with the backpack also comes from not carrying society's expectations on my back all the time.
Thank you for reading! I'm 1% on the way, 99% learning, living, laughing at myself. Hopefully this is not just a stage lol.