Over the past 2 weekends, I've been working on reducing the amount of stuff that owns me. Yes, you read that right. The further along in this project I get, the more I feel like I was the one that was owned.
The first part of this journey came to be when I decided I wanted to know if I could live in a one bedroom apartment, or if I need a 2 bedroom. You see, I've been living in a one bedroom only because I have a garage I pay extra for. Lots of my stuff lives in that garage so that I can have room to live here, in the apartment.
I needed to know if I could squeeze uncomfortably into a one bedroom apartment, or if I needed a 2 bedroom, so that my stuff could have it's own room. Oh, at first, I was rather unskillfully calling that second bedroom an "office" or "computer room". But the more I began to unclutter my life, the more honest I became. A second bedroom wouldn't be the "computer room" or "office" - my computer was already quite happily sharing a room with me here, in the apartment. I came to the realization that the second room would just be for my stuff. Wow. Scary. My stuff is going to have me paying rent for it now?
This is where it hit me like a brick. I pay rent for that garage. I'm already paying rent for my stuff. $600 this year just so my stuff has a place to live. I'm a slave to my stuff.
I scouted my apartment. I counted how many boxes I could stack up, and where. 25 total. Oh boy - is that going to be enough? We're talking the little boxes paper comes in - the "case" size.
In the end, I needed one big box (about the size of 3 of the paper case boxes) and 2 of the paper case boxes. I'm still not convinced I even need all of that.
Once I got started, it has become easier to let go of things - I hope to make that a habit. Also unusual for me is that I've insisted I make use of what I already have - I may reduce, but I may not add new things. So I did not buy the microwave stand that in the past would have been *required* for this project. Somehow it wasn't needed after all. Same thing with the table and new book case. The result is that I'm content with my space, and with my mind. More content with both, I think, than I would have been if I'd gone and spent the money on the "new" things I "needed" to "make the place work".
I was getting ready to observe that I can now take that extra money I saved and put it all in the bank. That is an unskillful thought. It arises from greed. Since this is money that I'm surprised to have, I believe the correct thing to do is to put some in the bank, and donate some to a cause I can support. Generosity is more skillful. More on the whole Buddhist thing later.