December 30, 2019. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Right when I thought I was making it out of 2019, hi-fiving happy to see the backside of the year, I was robbed. My suitcase, with all my belongings, was stolen from the trunk of my rental car on my way to a new years weekend in Paraty, Brazil. It was particularly devastating as I’ve spent the last year and a half living out of that suitcase. All the while, I had just arrived to a new country and where I didn’t speak the language. Resulting as a serious new year’s buzz kill.
Things were important to me, even if I didn’t want to admit it. Even when I listed each item as I was filing the police report, Le Labo perfume, handcrafted earrings from my friends in Oaxaca, some Louboutin travel heels, notes from my loved ones, social security card, all my favorite scarves, the officer said, so all your “stuff?” A little shame came across me. I know I was lucky in many ways, life could have been worse. But these things were part of my personal expression, my armor, my social class. If I’m honest, they defined me. And I didn’t realize I spent so much energy carrying them around, the physical weight and energy, until I was left with only the clothes on my back.
The Reality of Freedom
As a nomad, I’ve lived in multiple countries and cities the last couple years. I’ve hated packing and unpacking. Each new hotel or airbnb I’d lose something and have to either part with it mentally or attempt to get it back. With less things, it was a snap to get packed. I was living with the bare minimum items I need, which felt liberating.
There’s a sort of freedom from not having anything. I felt lighter. Not having to spend energy on choosing something to wear or so much time to put on makeup. This was a whole new lifestyle, much more minimal, giving me more energy to use elsewhere like writing this article.
I was more logistical when acquiring new items and took more consideration. I didn’t buy anything just because. Each piece had a special earned spot in the suitcase.
Power of Decluttering
In the age of Marie Kondo and “Kondo-ing”, the Japanese art of releasing ourselves from clutter and only keeping the items that “spark joy.” I found starting with nothing healing and releasing. Now I have the opportunity to choose the items that makes sense for me right now in my present moment. Just like the concept of minimalism or intentionality, simplifying our space and mentality has huge psychological benefits and removes distraction.
Getting Robbed Sucks
No one likes losing something, especially stolen. It makes us feel unsafe and can trigger a reptilian fight or flight response. I was always taught it’s how we respond to life’s challenges that define us. So I chose to take this reality check to be grateful for those items that were lost (and had brought me joy) and take this as an opportunity to find more treasures.
I’m not saying get rid of all your things, but we can each benefit from our own decluttering, mentally, physically, and energetically. Ultimately, there’s a freedom to minimalism and a reward in real abundance and contentment.