Sunday, 23 September 2012


It is funny how the stuff you own starts to own you.

Not long ago I splurged on two very extravagant items – a handbag and a wallet – a frivolous ‘investment’ that amounted to our monthly mortgage payment. Was it love at first sight? Yes. Did I feel I deserved it? Absolutely. Did it make me happy? Sure, at first.

The problem is that these beautiful things fade and wear with time. I look at my wallet and the leather has scratches from every day use. My handbag has fared better, only because I’ve been obsessive to the point of distraction every time I take it for a spin. The pinnacle of ridiculousness was when I purposely stayed several more hours at work, waiting for the rain to subside before I went home, all in the vain hope of not getting my handbag wet! These objects of lust are a cause for concern as opposed to comfort. Walking around with a museum piece is getting exhausting, and sometimes you just need something you can throw around.

The same is so true for the stuff we bring into our lives. It has weight. Not just of the physical variety, but an emotional cost that tangles and holds you back. What if it get damaged? Lost? Damaged? Broken? Worn? Dirty? Enough. I look around our apartment and all I see is stuff we have accumulated, precious parts of our lives that we have squandered to earn the money to buy the things we don’t really need. I suspect this is an ample illustration of lunacy.

So here is what I’ve spent Sunday morning doing…

Clothes in box

A good start


Filling the first of a series of boxes that will be donated to goodwill. This will be a gradual journey, a journey to simplify our lives.

Getting rid of things we don’t need, and in the process helping others too. Nonetheless, it wasn’t easy parting with goods accumulated over a lifetime, especially the sentimental things with stories attached. Like the first real work shirt I had bought, a blue Thomas Pink cotton number. Even though it is now 13 years old, it still reminds me of our shopping expedition in London where Pickhaver dragged us all to Jermyn St.

This was one of the  most  fancy clothing stores I’d ever been in, where shirts  came in different sizes as well as sleeve lengths, cuff links were the norm and brought with it an air of sophistication that can never be replaced by a mere button. I still remember handing over the visa card in exchange for the signature pink and black edged bag containing an exquisitely tissue paper wrapped shirt and a pair of cuff links. It shouted “…you have arrived…”, you are in the pink (literally) and it felt so very good. But this shirt has outlived its usefulness. Over a decade is a long time for any piece of clothing to stay relevant, and I don’t think I can actually recall the last time I actually wore the shirt! It has moved with me from Australia to Hong Kong to New York. Each time I try to throw it out, the desire to hold onto that special moment in time gets the better of me. So I thought, dear reader, that you can help me out and be my audience, hear my thoughts and through this process of writing I get to share this moment in time with you. I figure, then I don’t need a blue shirt to remind me of that graduate training trip that set a lifetime of friendships and a whole career in motion, because I still have these wonderful people in my life as well as you, dear reader to remind me.

Full clothes box

Time to let go


So the box is packed, and sitting by the door. I know it is the first of many, as I learn to really separate experiences and memories from things, and remind myself that there is a freedom in owning less and tending toward simplicity.