Since I already had a blog up and running, and for better or worse ultralight backpacking is about minimalism in it’s essence. Being able to do more with less, not being hindered by all your shit. Instead, packing what you need and being able to go longer, harder and better with less. Knowing what you have and having a use for what you bring. In backpacking, at least ultralight backpacking you bring one backpack, one bed, one spoon, one kitchen set, one t-shirt and so on. And if you choose the stuff you really like than it’s the best feeling on earth knowing you are complete, that you couldn’t possibly need or want anything else. This joy is something I have felt for a long time when I am out on the trail. However, once I get home reality starts to set in.

This is something I have been thinking about for a long time, and with a few odd brush ins here and there with an occasional YouTube video about a guy in japan who owns only 150 things, I have never actually heard about minimalism or the movement that it is. Nor, have I ever thought about the benefits of owning less and so on. I do know that at times in my life when I am most productive is usually when I have a focused working environment, free from distraction. Then, one day a few a few months ago I went for a long walk, stressed and bothered about not having anytime and only have anxiety for the stuff that I owned. Namely a BMW, A motor boat, two Saab 900s, a fairly large house packed from wall to wall with stuff. I am by no means a hoarder, in fact I have always been pretty good at filtering out the stuff I don’t use. But somehow this last couple of years my consumption has really taken over without me noticing. 

On this walk I started to reflect upon some of the greatest moments of my life; my months in Australia just surfing and enjoying life, my months in Greece and Italy doing the same, my trips and vacations around the world, spending an evening by a campfire with my wife and son, my wedding, my son’s birth, being on the beach without a care in the world and hiking in distant lands for days and weeks on end with nothing but by backpack. I noticed a commonality among these memories: In all of my happiest moments of my life, stuff never came into the equation. In fact most of my longest trips (Australia, Greece, Italy and so on) I barely owned anything at all. I just had a backpack with some clothes in it. I noticed that the simple life is what I really craved. The simple life spoke to my soul in the deepest meaning. I realized that all my stuff was doing nothing but creating an immense stress within myself, a prison if you will. As I walked I thought about why I hadn’t slept for weeks on end: My cars needed to be fixed, I wanted to rebuild and sell them. My boat was not being used, instead just sitting and getting in worse and worse shape. I had entire rooms filled with books I was convinced I just had to read, or had already read for that matter, but I kept. This stressed me because I thought “If and when I get that minute or two over I will read these”. I had PlayStations, Nintendo’s, Dreamcast and more. When I came home from that walk I looked at my home differently.

While there is never a single moment that really changes one’s life forever, there are a series of moments, perhaps a string of coincidences that can only be put together and defined when the time is right. That particular walk on that day put those string of coincidences together, it laid out the choices I have made for myself over the course of the last ten years right there, exposed in it’s entirety for me to truly comprehend. It helped me define what I truly wanted to do, it helped me analyze the why behind my stress. The truth is I am happiest when I have less, need less and want less. I realized on that walk that the only thing I really wanted to do was create an amazing future for my wife and son, I wanted to be content with what I had, and with that, it became all to obvious that I had way too much. I got stressed when I came home because there was so much stuff, so much clutter, I knew that my freedom disappeared with each new item I brought into my home, because each new item in meant more time gone. Time that I wanted to give to my son instead of saying to him “sorry I don’t have time”. That was becoming an all too often sentence for me and my wife. I didn’t have time because I had to fix the cars, or read that book, or clean up the clutter, or cut the grass, or choose what clothes to wear, or find that tool.. I always had something that I absolutely had to do.. And my son just wanted me to join him on the trampoline.

That walk for me changed my outlook, I came home and placed all my cars for sale that evening. When the cars sold the pressure, anxiety and stress disappeared with them. I love hard manual labor, but when it becomes a source of stress and nothing else, it’s time to let go. Within a month after that walk I have emptied hundreds of books, got rid of all my video games, almost my entire clothing closet is emptied, my guitars are sold, my boat, BMW and motorcycles all gone. On top of that because of all the empty space where clutter once resided I have now downsized even the furniture. The joy and relief of having less is rubbing off on my wife now who is also going through all her stuff as well. We are talking about what to get rid of next, what do we need, what do we use.. and through it all we never discuss what we need to buy. We know we have everything we could possibly want or need, now we just need to learn to be content.

Along the way I have written a few articles here and many of my readers have given suggestions of other writers and bloggers within minimalism. To see, read and realise that I don’t have to go on this journey alone is pretty awesome.

IMG_0236
This is just one of the many, many loads of books, clothes, bags and other shit that I have collected over the last 10 years. So far I have gotten rid of about 20 boxes and bags filled with just books. 

With that, I want to invite you to join me on this journey. My journey will look different than yours, and perhaps your motivations are different from mine. I cannot speak for you, I can only write my own experiences and the joy this transition is bringing to me. I will write from time to time about my process and journey here on this blog about being ultralight and comfortable. Why not? Perhaps I will call this journey “ultralight living”

In my coming post I will document how I change certain habits, what I do with papper and documents and basically my overall transition. I hope that you will find some value in the things I write.

Posted by Kenneth Shaw

Blogger, photographer and backpacker. If you like my writing or my site don't be afraid to follow me, like or share my posts here on the site. Thanks and enjoy!

One Comment

  1. Awesome post, Ken. Check your FB messages..

    Like

    Reply

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