For the past eighteen months or so Tee and I have been on a mission of consolidating things – our possessions that is. Not only have we cleaned out drawers, closets, and attics, but we’ve even been divesting of real estate, except for our home. And it too is about to go on the market, although we do plan to purchase another one more suitable to our current lifestyle. Our mission is not just about getting rid of unwanted junk, though. More importantly it is about letting go of unneeded stuff that distracts us from more important things. Our goal is to put our possessions in proper perspective so we can spend our lives focusing on what really matters.
So what does really matter? We all might answer that in different ways, but I’m willing to bet most of our answers would be surprisingly similar. I’m also willing to bet that few would place possessions at the top of the list of things that really matter. And the more we mature – a polite way to describe getting old – the further down the list possessions get pushed and the greater importance “what really matters” becomes, which is what motivated us to consolidate.
In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster devotes an entire chapter to what he calls “the discipline of simplicity”. In it he advises his readers to, “De-accumulate! Masses of things that are not needed complicate life,” he explains. “They must be sorted and stored and dusted and re-sorted and re-stored ad nauseam. Most of us could get rid of half our possessions without any serious sacrifice. We would do well to follow the counsel of Thoreau: ‘Simplify, simplify.’”
The point is not that possessions are necessarily bad or unimportant. We do need them to live and to live comfortably. But when we become obsessed by them to the point of being distracted from what really matters, it’s time to consolidate as we are in process of doing – to simplify.
I would challenge you to consider this week what really matters, and what might be distracting your focus from that. Do you need to “de-accumulate” and simplify? If so, join the club. We still have more to do.