What’s the Worth In It?

Why do we spend so much time accumulating stuff just to “get away from it all?”

Many of us have fond memories of that first apartment that we left for our second apartment with only a few carloads of clothes, a broken lamp, and some books and movies. That one friend helped, then the two of you split a bottle of wine and a pizza. 

Fast forward to my current household, where we have a perpetual donation pile of crap for Goodwill… yet the closets never seem to empty. 

Hypocritically, I also consider myself a minimalist. Probably because minimalism is the rebellious way that we Millennials differentiate ourselves from the evils  desires habits of prior generations.

I still experience inklings of that wine bottle-spartan apartment vibe, but it seems I have to eschew all comforts and head for the wilderness or a less developed country…

Both Nick and I find our happiest moments living out of a 17-foot canoe in the BWCA or trekking around Mexico with two 18 Liter packs. Which begs the question, why did we spend so much time accumulating all the stuff just to “get away from it all?” Literally… get away from all of IT?

Picture of Nick and Annie in the Boundary Waters, minimal gear.
BWCA Trip 2019

So, you can stop here and read everyone else’s blog or clickbait about minimalism… WordPress doesn’t allow a long enough post for all the links, so I’ll let you do your own Google search. 

Or if you have the desire to sell it all and move to Haiti, you’d be able to write a better blog than this one. Oh, plus, there’s this lady you can watch… everyone says she’ll help you get a good chunk of your lifestyle into the landfill, assuming you binge enough episodes to feel the heavenly inspiration of decluttering descend down upon you.

But, it’s really not about having too much at all. Because if you don’t have anything you are going to seek out something.

Put it another way, nobody ever said their bank account is just “too cluttered up with dollars.” Nor is a vacation ever “too many days long.” It seems to me, there is an innate desire in humans to accumulate. 

One can tell themselves that the stuff is time or experiences instead of possessions, but if you really wanted to go that direction you would have already had the midlife crisis and left in a van with your dog for the Pacific Coast. Which would imply that, yup, you guessed it… your blog would be better than this one.

The point here is not guilt, it’s honesty. It’s not about not-having-stuff, it’s about having the right items and using them in a healthy way. 

Once upon a time, there was this girl who married a guy that quit his house remodel without installing a wall oven. To say he got sidetracked would be an understatement. Eventually, that girl begged, pleaded, and even appealed to others to rectify this travesty, all while slowly learning to cook meatloaf in the crockpot and pies with a dutch oven and some charcoal.

I’m not saying you should pitch a perfectly good appliance, more that life is all possible with less.

In the big picture, for me, I’ve got too much shit going on and it’s time to simplify. If I can cook a pie in the middle of my yard, I can do anything. But only if it’s worth it.

Annie holding her pie made in a Dutch oven.
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This post was written by Annie Schmitz, February 2021.

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