Disconnect, Reconnect, Live

Posted on October 2, 2009


Hoarders. If you watch any television, then you’ve probably seen a commercial for this show. It didn’t look very interesting to me and I had no plans to watch it, but I haven’t been sleeping well at all this entire week. One night, I just grabbed the remote, flipped on the tele, and began surfing. That’s when this awesome wave came up, I hopped on top of my board, and rode that wonderful wave all the way back to the shore. Once I hit the shore, I realized something; that wave wasn’t really that wonderful. It was eye-opening, disheartening, and painful to ride out. Painful, because I’m one of those guys that really care about other people, and watching these people destroy their lives over something as meaningless as a button, was extremely painful to me. It disheartened me to know that it wasn’t just the two people in the episode suffering because of their desire to have these material objects, but the many others out there that struggle with this same problem, and the families of each one of these people. Eye-opening, because I realized that I’m a little bit of a hoarder myself…

I looked around my room, noticing various trinkets from different people. In particularly, I noticed trophies that I received for just playing Little League Baseball, not necessarily being good at it, but just for playing it. Add in the fact that its a sport that I don’t even care about, and I’ve got junk on display. There were other trophies on display for participating in a couple Pine Wood Derbies, Pine Wood Derbies I never even placed in, just participated in. Various models I have put together, in particularly car models, and once again things that I no longer cared about. I felt like I should display them though, because it was all part of my life, even if it truly no longer was. That’s when I realized I was hoarder, not to the degree of it ruining my life, but I did hold onto things that no longer in actuality mattered to me.

I thought about this for a bit, and realized that most of us are like this. We tend to hold onto things because they have memories associated with them, and usually good memories. For instance, my mom still has certificates of things that I accomplished in academics, over a decade ago. I understand that she is proud of what I have been able to accomplish in my academic career, but it really is just clutter. She stores this stuff in her craft room, which makes less room for her to store her craft supplies, therefore hindering her ability to create craft-works. I bet if you asked your parents if they had a drawer, box, and some place set aside for things from your childhood, the answer would be ‘Yes.’ Its cool to know that they care, but do they/we need that materialistic proof that they care? Now, I don’t think so.

I brainstormed on what I could do to get away from this materialistic viewpoint of memories, and came up with a few ideas.

  • The first thing I want you to do is realize something. Realize that life, not stuff, matters. At the end of this short journey, you’ll look back and remember your experiences, the people you loved and the people who love you, the things you did and the things you didn’t do, not the stuff you had.
  • Next, disconnect with stuff. Sometimes, the item has an emotional connection, but realize that it is just an object. Its not the emotion or the actual source of the emotion, the memory is.
  • Now, that you’re disconnected with stuff, I want you to connect with others. Not via facebook, twitter, or whatever these days, but in real life. If you haven’t hung out with a friend recently, give him/her a call and go hang out. Get your kid away from the TV or game console, and take them outside to do something. Go on a date with your partner.
  • Create memories that aren’t based on objects, but on experiences. When Christmas rolls around, birthday parties, etc., don’t purchase someone a gift, give them a spot on your calendar instead. Do something out of the ordinary that day. Not only does it create good memories for them, but for you as well.
  • One last thing I’d ask you to do. Rediscover your passion for life. Connect with nature, and learn to appreciate the beauty of the world around you. Go for a walk, a hike, a bike ride, a swim, etc. Be active in the world, and feel the life coursing through you. Breathe it in.

I’ve recently began getting rid of various things of no real value, and I can honestly tell you, it feels great! I have more room for things that really matter, and there is less distraction when I need to focus on something. Disconnect with stuff, and connect with others. It’s awesome.

Please feel free to put in your two cents below. Experiences in particular, I love listening to the stories of other people.

Posted in: Zen