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  • Writer's pictureNadine Almer

Packing up my life: 1 backpack - 103 things

About three years ago a dream formed within my mind: travel around the globe with only one backpack of belongings, the minimalism challenge of my life. Today this dream became reality- but not without challenges and surely not without a complete 360 turn of my life.

Nowadays minimalism seems to be everywhere, and that is very encouraging. When I first started the quest to bring more balance to my life through minimalism there were two documentaries that inspired me in many ways. One about different ways to approach this new style of living and one that seemed to give a very dogmatic view on the topic, nonetheless both promised freedom and happiness.

Two years later mainstream took a hold of this topic and shone a light upon all the other questions this conscious change of lifestyle brought with it: How much do we own? Why do we own so much and use so little of it? Why are we not happy? What is happiness? Who profits off of the consuming public? Why do we buy and how much of it is unconsciously influenced by our technology?

With the movie "100 Dinge" Florian David Fitz created a masterpiece that not only brought all these questions to our conscious mind, it was and is a movie that starts out from where we all are, the beginning of a journey to understand more about ourselves and our surroundings. Not only are the two protagonists amazing in their own individual protrayal of ordinary day to day personas, they are able to let us follow them on their journey, without pointing a finger or crucifying anything. This is important because unfortunately as soon as someone takes a path out of the ordinary, others might find it almost immediately offensive and as a result shut down. But minimalism, as a lot of new approaches to new ways of living that have come up within the last few years, would open up wonderful dialogues, with an open heart as well as an open mind. Minimalism is a deeply personal journey though it might seem very easy because you supposedly just have to get rid of stuff. Indeed the core of it all seems to be about things, surprisingly enough this is only the beginning. In truth you begin to think about the relationship you have with your stuff, you question the way you invest your money and where and why you spend it, you shine light upon your carefully hidden instant gratification mechanisms carefully encouraged by advertising, you begin to see who is profiting off of you and your trust- deeply personal questions that lead to a deeply personal change of life.

Inspired by Bea Johnson's TedTalk about ZeroWaste I started out on my journey of sustainability. Ultimately this led me to minimalism because it is a facette of ZeroWaste, though it stands for itself as a lifestyle concept as well. Through minimalism I saw a way out of a conventional way of living, I saw a possibility to travel the world with no boundaries, no address, no apartment, no attachment. At first it seemed like an easy task but as it is with everything, it was not that simple at all. I had to let go of a lot of things that seemed to mean a lot, things that still mean a lot and now only remain an item within my memore, things I thought I could not live without but now do not even think about anymore. I realized how much I only kept because they were presents and I would not want to seem rude by explaining how I did not want to have any more things in my life, even if they were presents. I had things in my life only because I thought they would make me happy just to came to terms with the fact that they only became dead weight. I kept things in triplicate, like photos or shoes or clothes or kitchen items, because I never really sat down and looked at my belongings to figure out if they had a use or were of use. And the "stuff" aside, I had to be honest with myself, my ways of searching love, appreciation and validation in the outside, with materialism, with the food I treated myself to even though it was unhealthy, with the habits that needed to be identified as habits because they were so deep rooted in my daily routine I did not even think about them as habits before, with the leisure time I spent and what leisure meant to me, with a close observation what I did and how it made me really feel, how I benefitted from it or how miserable it made me feel about myself.

As of today I am proud to be able to say I (and my dog Marjorie) own 103 things in total. It was such a long journey to this point but to be honest, the way my life unfolded, I would not change it a bit. Finally I am on the edge and able to let go of everything that held me back before.

I take the leap and see what life throws at me. Owning less gave me the confidence to trust that everything I need will be provided in some way or another, it changed my perspective of what it is that makes me happy, where I want to put my focus on and energy to, where my priorities lie, what I want my life to look like.

So for me minimalism provided a way of living that asked the right questions, led me to adventurous possibilities as well as adding a balance to my life it gave me a clarification of my priorities which brought me closer to my personal way towards contentment and the joy of Now.

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