Living without television, stereo, and newspapers
while being of immense benefit
to our mental and moral well-being,
also separates us from that
mass-controlling feature of the modern world:
the perverse onslaught of advertising,
and its utterly bizarre, absolute control
of the modern multitudes.
It is one of the most liberating feelings in the world
to observe people, in general,
speaking, agitating, and rushing frenetically about
in their mad rush to buy the latest technological toy,
sale item, or popular fashion accessory –
and to be, oneself, not the slightest bit interested
in what so evidently controls the thoughts and desires,
commands the attention, and dictates
the actions of the modern multitudes.
Truly, this is Freedom.
Greed – the mindless acquisition of amusements
and vanity toys – is behind the appalling superficiality
of 21st century humanity,
and – for anyone who might seek a life
with more meaning than the constant pursuit
of entertainment and ego –
I can promise that you WILL view the world
– and people – much differently,
once commercial advertising
becomes meaningless to your life.
In considering the question of HOW one begins
to ‘downsize’ one’s belongings,
I suppose the best practical answer would be:
“If you have not used it in the past 18 months,
you probably will never use it again.
It will go without saying that this excludes
emergency items such as a torch, batteries,
a Primus Stove, and such like.
These will be stored in a container that is
specifically marked for such things as ‘power outages’,
‘plumbing’, ‘electrical’ &c.
A photo of our ‘junk’ – paint tins, tools, suitcases,
the things one does not use, but dare not discard …
With the “18 month” guide, I refer to all personal
and household items; accumulated acquisitions,
Set aside those items that you have not used
in the past year and a half or so:
pick up each one, and ask yourself – out loud:
“Why did I buy this, exactly?”
Then answer the question – out loud:
Yes, absolutely — Talk to Yourself …
And LISTEN to your own answer !
“I bought it to impress (so-and-so)”,
“I bought it because it was on TV –
because ‘everyone else’ had one”,
“I bought it to feed my Vanity” –
and so on.
Then ask, “What does this do with my time?”
“What does having this do to my mind?”
“Could my time be better used than by
wasting it on this?”
When physically hearing the response –
you may well embarrass, if not shame, yourself.
Once all superfluous junk has been set aside
using that criteria as a starting point,
exercise personal integrity
in examining your own conscience to determine
which possessions most gratify Conceit –
identifying what things have been bought
in order to “impress”
those who are shallow enough
to actually be impressed by … ‘things’.
A Word of Advice
IF you are determined to ‘downsize’
your own belongings, arrange somewhere
that you can leave the ‘discarded’ items
for a month or so.
If, in that time, your resolve is fixed, and you
truly do not need things to secure happiness,
then, you may donate the items to charity,
if you so wish.
If it is something that is destructive to mind or morals,
– such as a television, books, CD’s, DVD’s &c. –
you effectively destroy it by taking it
to the town dump.
If, on the other hand, the whole exercise was, for you,
a passing fancy … then no ‘harm’ has been done,
and you may freely return to the satisfaction
of your material objects.
Everything that I own has either practical
or sentimental value: there is nothing in our home
that is a ‘fashion statement’ or ‘popular’ product.
I have always believed in quality, dependability,
– craftsmanship: one good item,
rather than three cheap ones.
Taking that little while longer to save one’s pennies
allows one to focus upon whether that item
is really an important and worthwhile purchase.
It removes that desire to ‘collect’ … IF
a self-disciplined mind-set
is behind every future purchase.
By limiting the things that you own
to the narrow and meaningful standard
of definite practical need (clothing),
and sentimental or edifying items (things) only,
you will have effectively removed
the superficial dross of impulse and greed
from your life.
What I Own, and Why I Keep It …
Everything that I own
is seen here …
The first of two watertight boxes
contains passport and personal papers.
A second square box protects
96 Kodachrome transparencies
from my days as a military
and commercial photographer.
A five- by three-foot oak wardrobe
contains all my clothes.
The old leather despatch bag accompanies me
wherever I go; and carries what you see,
A business card case as a wallet;
and a teacup (a personal idiosyncrasy:
going to the relative expense of buying
a frothy Mocha coffee as a treat
does not include sucking it through a slit
in the plastic lid of a paper cup);
my secateurs and Bonsai shears
seem invariably to be produced
whenever I have occasion
to be at someone’s home or garden –
either for brief treatment of an ailing plant;
or simply as an ‘extended business card’
to demonstrate the effects that proper pruning
can have in the garden.
A Garden Spade, Border Shovel, Fork, and Rake;
Tree Loppers, Tree Saw, and Sturdy Wheelbarrow
are the tools of my trade,
and round off my personal belongings.
A Word about Books …
Reading is my entertainment.
Although having given away my library,
I must mention that, over the years,
the contents of my old books
have been committed (by sheer repetition:
re-reading treasured volumes a dozen times and more)
to my appalling memory … and,
in key quotations, to two notebooks
which have served when called upon
to deliver a lecture at short notice.
A very well stocked antiquarian bookshop
provides an admirable and constant source
of quality reading material:
once a book of interest has been read
and re-read, it is returned to the shop,
which, effectively, buys it back
at a small loss to me; credits my ‘account’,
and I can browse for another title of interest.
It is impossible to describe the liberty
– the freedom – from greed …
from constantly ‘wanting’ things,
that comes with a genuine desire
and concerted effort to be rid of
extraneous possessions – MOST of which,
have no redeeming merit whatsoever,
and serve only to gratify vanity and waste time.
I can also assure you that,
with the passage of a very brief amount of time,
one begins to look back with embarrassment
at the things that were once regarded as
“important” or “indispensible”.
Conversation; work in the garden;
the real enjoyment of a good book as entertainment,
makes one realise the vacuity and superficiality
with which multitudes conduct their lives
identifying themselves by the … things
… which they own.
For any who may be are considering “thinning out”
their own personal possessions,
I trust that the suggestions presented here
may be of some use.