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Aparigraha - Living a Life of Quality Over Quantity

When I was eighteen I came home to B.C. for my first summer holiday after completing my freshman year. My mom had asked me to pack up my room so that my little sister could move in. She was sharing a room with my other little sister and was approaching that age where she desperately needed a space to call her own.

This was a fair and logical thing for my mother to ask me to do since I no longer lived in Canada and had no intentions of moving back. However, if I am being honest it was an incredibly daunting task. You see, I used to be a collector of sorts, an organized hoarder… a keeper of all things useful and useless…

Knowing that I had eighteen years worth of "stuff" in this room to box up was a task that mentally exhausted me before actually even starting. Once I began I got into a groove because my attachment to everything was thrown out the window. Instead, I felt like purging everything that I had accumulated in my eighteen years of life; from stuffed animals to gymnastics metals, I just wanted it all gone. By the time I was done emptying my small room my mom and I consolidated everything into 17 bags of garbage/donation…

Fast forward to the end of my senior year of college where I was faced with the task of emptying my apartment that I had lived in for three years. The task this time was to fit everything into my tiny blue Kia hatchback. This was so that I could drive from Texas to Florida... where my new home would be. I vividly remember throwing a pair of high heels against a wall thinking to myself "did I even wear these? Sky, seriously why the hell did you buy these when you know your back injury hates heels..."

I had many internal and external conversations with myself and in turn I lost my temper countless times. Admittedly, I think my college roommate thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown… He was not far off. I was frustrated a myself for the amount of STUFF I had collected AGAIN in such a short amount of time. Somehow I consolidated my stuff and survived this move.

Fast forward to two years ago when my partner and I decided we were done with the state of Florida and wanted to move across the United States to Washington. You see we wanted to be closer to the mountains and our family. Not only is this a giant cross-country move but we were faced with consolidating BOTH of our stuff into the same tiny blue Kia hatchback…

This actually made moving into a 450 square foot apartment somewhat possible. However, moving again from Washington back to B.C. was another move. Marking our fourth move in two years…

Recently, I lived out of a backpack for two months. This proved to me that all I need is a few clothes, a yoga mat, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste to be happy. I do not need all this stuff anymore.

Aparigraha is a Sanskrit word that translates to non-possessiveness. In essence it’s to be non-greedy, to not get thrilled on materialistic purchases or possessions. Lately, this rings more and more true my actions with myself.

We are in the midst of preparing for another move and as I mentally prepare I find that I am constantly faced with the question of “do I need this?” I used to just do this with clothes but now I have adopted this mentality for everything.

For example, in regards to my bookshelf, rather than just collecting books to get dusty, I now return the ones I wont read again to used bookstores to get credits. This allows me to buy books I have not yet read in an economical way while allowing others may read the ones I wont read again.

I am trying to be more mindful of my possessions and the purpose they serve me. For example, this is the first year I have gone to a cobbler to fix my shoes. My two staples are my rain boots and Birks. Both have lived good lives used to the point of near death. A cobbler was able to revitalize both shoes for an affordable price. So rather than throwing them out to be placed in a landfill and replacing them with a new pair, I was able to extend their lifespan.

As I try to reduce the clutter within my life, I have to reduce the materialistic clutter as well. Learning to purchase with purpose rather than to collect. I am faced with overwhelming gratitude for the items I have obtained whether I have bought it or been gifted -- to the point of feeling guilt for the treasures I have in my life.

This perspective has me looking at “things” differently. I am faced with spending in a more resourceful, mindful way and it suits me fine. Living a life of quality vs quantity is my intentions.

Covent Gardens, London, UK

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