Friday, June 29, 2012


Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. - Oscar Wilde -


 In my travels to conferences and appearances, I find that packing disgusts me. I have worked hard to simplify my life to something more to my liking, away from the rat race. However, when I hit the road, I realize how much I depend on certain material things, way more material items than I want to admit to needing. I vow each time to pack lighter, coordinate less, and enjoy more of the journey without a mound of clothes and electronics.

I knew someone who quit work, packed a trunk, put it in his truck, and camped across America for almost four months. Better yet, most of his trunk contained books. He returned from that trip determined to decrease his need for "things." Yet two years later, he had to rent a trailer to move his furnishings from one apartment to another...a stealth accumulation of stuff. And he isn't crazy about that change he swore he'd avoid. He's in the process of revisiting where his comfort level in terms of material ownership. Still . . . his living conditions are sparse compared to the average person.

If we don't move periodically, we horde things, afraid to let go, worrying we may one day need that book, appliance, tight pair of jeans, chair. So we stockpile for that one day of possible need, until our garages, attics, closets and spaces under our beds are jam-packed. 


We accumulate baggage for intangible items, too - feelings, responsibilities, beliefs. Our lives fill up until we think we don't have enough time or energy to pursue anything else. We call it procrastination, commitment, obligation. More times than not, it's more a fear of owning up and putting a stop to this accumulation. The fellow above was able to step out and travel, on his terms, daring to become unemployed during a time in our economy when people cling to jobs like flypaper. He relished the freedom of not being tied down, not hauling around stuff. It changed his perspective on life.

We only have 24 hours in a day. We aren't sitting around wondering what to do with it, either. It's popular to flaunt our busy-ness, as if martyring ourselves is a badge of honor. 

In reality, saying no, ridding ourselves of our excess stuff, prioritizing what really holds purpose is more admirable. If you write, stop right now and decide what in your life needs to be discarded to make room for serious pursuit of your dream. Now. Not Monday, not after the kids are back in school, not after New Years. Resign from a duty. Say no more often. Shed the guilt that all your time has to be given to someone else.

The freedom of defining your time, sloughing off the burdens, and pursuing your writing goal, is a phenomenal creative catalyst. Your family and friends might be amazed at how much more fun you become with that balance in your life.


Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

Hope, I tried to comment using my iTouch a few days ago and the comment went into the ether...your post is right on, resonating especially with me at a certain stage of my life. It also reminds me of Into the Wild, about Chris McCandless who gave up everything to live out in the wild. He took it to the extreme, but there's something admirable about embracing your dream so fully.

Did you see the recent opinions in the NY Times about people being too busy doing nothing? So much of our days are spent with tasks and meaningless chatter (email, etc.) I have begun to ask myself whether I am using my time wisely and how I can remedy the time-wasting that traps us, activities that are full of busyness but don't get near our dreams.

Thanks for this!


Janet Hartman said...

In 2000, I sold my house and 99
5 of my stuff and and moved onto my sailboat. On lived on the boat for 6 years, changing ports multiple times a year and telecommuting. I lived a simplified life in terms of possessions but rich in experiences. In 2006 I sold the boat and bought a house, vowing to keep my minimalist lifestyle. I have failed, although I'm not as bad as I used to be. Maybe that's because there's no basement and accessing the limited attic is inconvenient!

I've scaled back my volunteer work to make more time for writing, and this week the bag of clothes I weeded out of the closet goes to the thrift shop!

Jane VanOsdol said...

In November my son sold his car and many of his belongings to walk across America by himself. He did it to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children, for the Burn Unit, where he had been a patient two years ago. I was amazed at his persistence to follow this dream. Everything he needed he either carried or pushed in a small cart. It took him 5 months and lots prayers! (

I'm not sure that I would be willing to sell most of my things as he did, but his trip challenges me to simplify and focus on what's most important. Be choosy with my time and projects.

Don't you love it when you learn from your kids?

Hope Clark said...


It's the best feeling when you see your kids make decisions you never thought of, and they're so smart. Just warms you up all over.