the cost of stuff

And how it dictates our lives.   We spend copious amounts of time discussing our life, our home, the things that should/should not fill it.  The people, the habits and events that should fill the time in our lives.  These are the discussions that allow us to know what it is we want.  What we're after.  How we should alter the trajectory we set each day/week/month/year as things move forward.  I guess we always have if i think back to our old lives...the difference is that we seemed to have less choice or less ability to have an immediate impact on the choices made then than we do now.

Before, the discussions about stuff only came up for large purchases that required more conversation than the swipe of a card, usually meaning they were followed by several zeros.  The conversation about what to do and where to go was limited to what we were allowed to do in between workdays or on the rare overlapping vacation, and the talks about dreams were simply reserved for "later".

Now, the question of what to do can actually be a daily decision and our longterm dreams not so different (and often the two interwoven).  It's simply amazing to feel so completely in control of our own days, even if it may come with other stresses and an ample amount of work required to do so.

The question of who to spend our time with continues to be interesting for us as we moved back "home" to portland specifically to nest among family and friends.  Yet, if we are truly open and honest, we find ourselves insanely happy here yet... somehow a bit lonely.  Our friends have jobs and commitments and children.  We realistically only see even our dearest and closest of friends once every two weeks or once a month.  It has been a common topic for us lately as we near wrapping up our (possibly) last renovation project and go back to a space of having more flexibility in terms of location and travel.beginning



Stuff seems to be always among our deepest topics, and has been no different over the last few weeks.  Its a topic that always abounds for us at home, and is always a pivotal part of our conversations with clients as they look to downsize and move into small homes/ADUs.  Some of our recent talks were dictated by the fact that we are finishing off another small space. One that we have been living in, will likely live in on and off as the garage rents out, and may rent out for others to enjoy as well which means it needs some "things" to allow it to function.  Purchases we hate to make but that simply have to have to make a space a home.

Some of our discussions dictated because the world prompted us into change.  Someone decide to steal our tiny teardrop, which made us come to terms (after a bit of grievance and emotional turmoil) with the fact that even though we built it with our own blood sweat and tears that in the end it was still just stuff.  After a week or two of trying to hunt down the camper and whoever stole it we slowly settled into the fact that we were now actually without it- and then slowly began realizing we don't really miss having it.

A few weeks later we got about 100 emails and texts from people all over town who were convinced they had found our camper.  It turned out to be simply a clip from a video that made local news showing a quick peak at the camper...but the video was shot before it was stolen, while still sitting outside of our house.  The next few days of emotional roller-coastering of good news/bad news via phone calls, texts, emails etc made us barely want to take a phone call much less talk about our trailer (but thrilled to live in a community of people that cared enough to be on watch for us and try to help!!).

We settled the claim with our insurance company, sold the mini cooper the we were keeping essentially just to tow the teardrop (we clearly do not need to be a two car family and have even been discussion parting with the bus), and we decided to give up the space we've been renting to store it through the winters and when not in use.  All of those decisions were only made easier because the teardrop was gone, but all felt immediately great.

And of course, because life loves a good twist...  we shortly after got an email from someone who wasn't talking about the news video.  They had actually found our teardrop listed for sale on craigslist!  I'll save you the entire story, but we opted not to have the vigilante justice or standoff confrontation with the person selling (or questionably who stole) it but did succeed in getting the them to eventually turn it over to authorities.  Oddly however... by the rule of the law, the teardrop is no longer ours.

craigslist liquor store


Because our claim was settled it is now the property of those who insured it.  Its future is unknown and we could presumably work to buy it back at auction, but in an odd twist of fate we have chosen not to chase down that possibility, look into its current state/condition or even look into the odds of getting it back.  In our minds now its clear that it was just stuff, that it was actually costing us a lot of energy, time and money that we hadn't even realized...and now are almost able to say that it's gone. Okay, maybe happy isn't the right word.  But we're content, and over it, and it all seems to have turned out for the better.

If only the debate over stuff, or decisions in life were always so easy, or if fate took such a heavy hand.  I also spent copious amounts of time in the last week reading the Mr Money Mustache provoked debate about whether having a dog (or a child) or several should be a financial decision or a happiness decision.  Cliff notes version...they should  ALL be decided using both as deciding factors.  There is no right or wrong answer to any of the above questions, just that many people don't take the time to think through, talk through or decide  upon any of them with the diligence the conversations deserve,

While I don't really side as closely with Mustache on this topic as usual, the amount of anger that came out from most people on both sides is another good reminder of how attached to things we all are, which doesn't mean we should give them up (especially the ones that have a heartbeat, provide us immense joy, companionship and love).  But it does likely mean we should probably all do a better job of weighing the pros/cons of adding any of them to our life, and the bigger the object, cost, weight, impact, life change the deeper, longer, more focused the conversation should be.

For all our thought, discussions and feelings about all these things- it seems that we once again have been trumped by someone who clearly had it all figured out long before we did.  I logged into facebook (for the first time in seemingly forever) and found the following video of Uruguayan president José Mujica discussing his thoughts on stuff.  It blew my mind a little.  And I might need to meet this man, and might just have more reason than ever to visit south america (where was this video when we were sitting in the southern tip of central america trying to decide between north and south?).

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In case this video goes away at some point in the future (which always seems to happen) is essentially the translation of his insanely true words.

"We invented a mountain of superfluous needs.

You have to keep buying.  Throwing away... It's our lives we are squandering.

When I buy something. Or when you buy it, were not paying with money. Were paying with the time from our lives we had to spend to earn that money.

The difference is that you cant buy life. Life just goes by.

And its terrible to waste your life losing your freedom." -José Mujica