I want to say something about money. More precise, actually: about buying stuff. Before we left and when we sold almost everything we had, including some of which were precious belongings, I thought I had become anti-materialist. Ultimately, I would be able to travel with only a rugsack full of things, I thought. Okay, you’re right. To be honest I wondered whether this would ever be possible, but surely I could try to become a true minimalist.
Minimalism is a hot topic these days. And with every trend it’s surrounded with pride and inevitable shame. Like with the fitness thing: don’t you also feel a hint of guilt whenever you eat bread? How can you?? Minimalism works the same way. Just open your closet, count the amount of pants or shirts you own and instantly feel bad. I mean, do you really need that many? You already know you don’t, right? I guess you’re just trapped in this never ending cycle of consumentism. Well, at least realising this takes most of the guilt away. We’re just victims of today’s society after all.
Warm and fuzzy feelings
About two years ago, before we even had the slightest idea of leaving our old life behind, I read the super popular Marie Kondo book on how to get rid of all the clutter in your house. If you don’t know it, I totally recommend it. Even though the writer is a little crazy, it’s a good read. Also it made me realise how unnecessary it is to be keeping all that stuff that you don’t really need. Because she teaches you why you would want to have something in the first place.
Basically there’s only one rule: think about the thing or even hold it, and if you get this warm, fuzzy feeling inside, you may keep it. Instantly I understood what she meant and for the first time in my life I was able to get rid of so very much. Almost the entirety of the storage space in the basement of our apartment building. And man, did I feel relieved. From then on I also started to approach others aspects of life in the same way. I even think it was part of the journey towards this life changing decision we eventually made, at the end of June 2016.
Living in a tiny space and having not too much money to spend makes it easy, the not buying stuff. Although Morocco has made it hard for me. There is so much craftsmanship to be found there, that it’s impossible to not be enchanted by any of it. The souk markets in Marrakesh were actually not hard to withstand, with their touristic approach, but arriving in more deserted villages (being the places where all those fine products are actually made) I was having trouble. All these colourful rugs and bags and lamps and shoes and…
Soon I knew I would totally regret not buying anything. But of course, there’s the space and money issue, hence I started looking out for the smaller and cheaper things. I ended up buying a little lamp for a small candle, made out of goatskin with intricate henna drawings on it. Also I bought a little pouch, made out of colourful fabric. No idea what I was going to use it for, but I figured it would come in handy. Then there’s this Berber bracelet that I bought which I wear daily, and let’s not forget our wooden floor. Handmade by one of the best young carpenters in the valley of Tafraoute. On top of it you find an off white woollen carpet, made to fit, also from there. Not a day goes by that I do not see these particular items that I’ve bought, or even cherish them.
Buy and enjoy the f*ck out of it
It makes me think about a dear friend of mine. She is a design aficionado and keeps on finding the most amazing furniture and decorations for inside her house. Also she likes wearing bright coloured clothes and quirky shoes and bags. Most of it is kind of expensive, but that’s okay: she works hard for it and she totally loves these pieces. I guess in a way they’re part of the family. A little while ago she jokingly complained about this whole minimalism fad, and how it’s supposed to be bad to be liking ‘stuff’. As if all of those items she has gathered don’t make her happy. Because they totally do, she said.
I knew that, and she would be the last person I consider a victim of this consumer society we live in. But only now I really get it.
When it comes to myself, I think I still lead a minimalist life, even though I have now gathered more than what we left with. (On the other hand we have also given away quite a lot, including the new guitar we’d taken because what freedom seeker doesn’t have one?! I’ll tell more about that expectation another time.) I now see what it really is about though: it’s not about having as little stuff as possible. It’s about only surrounding yourself with things you really appreciate.