I’m the atypical American, I suppose you could say. I’ve spent the majority of the last 23 years living and working overseas. It’s had its perks for sure, mixed with a downside, but overall, I wouldn’t have traded all my experiences in Vietnam and Malaysia for anything. By having such a transient lifestyle, our family has purposefully not accumulated a lot of possessions over the years. Oh sure, we have stuff in storage (maybe too much) and we’ve done our fair share of supporting global capitalism through our many purchases and our Amazon Prime membership, but I must say, compared to the average American, we’ve haven’t accumulated much. That is, perhaps, one of the greatest perks of living overseas.
When we moved to Malaysia in 2006, we bought a bunch of furniture on arrival which we used, loved, wore-out, and then sold dirt cheap when we left. We went with little and left with little. I know some folks who move overseas ship their whole household belongings with them in a shipping container–sometimes cars included. Not for us. Maybe an overweight bag or two. There’s a freedom in being light on your feet and debt free.
What made me start thinking about this topic is that we recently moved to Saudi Arabia. In doing so, we shipped (aghast!) some items from Malaysia directly to our new country. Not a lot–two pallets worth including a bicycle, guitar, household items, souvenirs and knickknacks. As each day passes without the shipment arriving, I’m starting to wonder what we actually shipped after all, and what would happen if for some reason our shipment never arrived?
I do know what would happen. Nothing.
Life would continue. We would work, live, laugh, eat, and enjoy our lives just fine–even if I never saw any of those out of sight items ever again.
What does it mean that I have so little regard for the things I currently don’t have? I think it means that we place far too much emphasis and value on the things in our lives, even if we don’t have a lot. But ultimately, I’m not going to cry over a lost crock pot, pizza pan, or painting. In the grand scheme of things, that shipment, which is now in the Persian Gulf, has no bearing on my life.
Now that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to come. Of course not. The practical side of me doesn’t want to have to buy another crock pot. But I’m also not going to fret about the things I do or don’t have. I think it’s a freeing place to live.
Before your next purchase, let me ask you a question: do you really need that?