How to Appreciate Things Without Having Them in Our Lives

How to Appreciate Things Without Having Them in Our Lives

Since leaving New York, life’s been a whirlwind, in mostly good ways. Business is moving right along and I’m learning a whole buncha lessons. Things are great. Busy, but great. And yet lately something keeps coming up that I’ve never really struggled with before.

And as a minimalist this is, well, sort of embarrassing to admit. I’ve been pining over stuff.

Not clothes or shoes or the latest tech gadgets, but other stuff … plants, actually.

Yup, I’ve been fantasizing about plants.

At first, I thought this was a bit odd. But throughout the process of becoming minimalist, I’ve grown to question my desire for material stuff before indulging in it.

You see, Dana and I have come to believe that often times, the physical stuff we think we want, is really just a symbol for a deeper need that’s not being met. We want stuff because we think it’s going to make us feel a certain way. The trouble, is that it rarely does.

So when I realized I was drooling over Peace Lilies, I asked myself what they represented for me on a deeper, emotional level. And it hit me: I’m really desiring a place to call my own in which to put said plants. A space I can curate and design and unwind in.

The deeper need is the sense of feeling truly at home.

I think it comes from all the schlepping around I’ve been doing, which summer has a way of exacerbating, doesn’t it? Between all the scheduling conflicts and races to meetings and parking tickets and weekend trips, I find myself wanting to retire to a place I’m comfortable and feel productive in. A place to call my own.

I don’t have that right now. I have my parents’ house, which is beautiful and welcoming, but not mine. And I’m traveling to New York so frequently, which is my favorite city in the world but it’s not mine anymore. I see what feels like thousands of Facebook announcements from new homeowners displaying their fresh digs and I scroll through Instagram to see interior designers sharing their latest wins (I need to stop following Apartment Therapy). And I just can’t help but feel a twinge of envy.

So here I am, pining over plants and feeling sorry for myself the other day, when I was listening to The Lively Show, a podcast I love. The host, Jess, who has been traveling indefinitely and just returned from Europe mentioned shes been feeling along the same lines. And something she said really stuck with me, it felt like she was speaking directly to me:

“We do not need to own to appreciate.”

It was a huge shift for me. I can appreciate the plants, and get excited about having them in my own home sometime soon, without having to own them.

Because here’s the thing; buying plants now isn’t going to make me feel anymore settled or at home. I can appreciate them for being beautiful, and for the joy I get from looking at them and imagining a home of my own in the future, but I don’t have to buy them.

We often think we need to own things in order to appreciate them. That we should collect stuff because excellent marketing tells us we need it. That what we have is going to make us feel the way we want to feel. But that’s all bullshit.

In the last 10 years, I’ve lived in nine different places. And in each place, I felt like it was a filler home. Someplace for the time being, but not my ‘real’ home. So I bought all this shit, just to fill them up, so they’d feel like home but then I just upped and left again. And all the stuff I bought never made these temporary places feel permanent.

So I’m wondering why I think succulents are going to make me feel like I have my own place when I don’t. And why I want my own place right now anyway.

I gave myself this time to figure out where I really want to be, what I want in a city, in a neighborhood, in a home. So I should just try to relax and be comfortable with the fact that I’m not there yet.

I need to accept the fact that I’m pining over the feeling I think the plants are going to give me, not the plants themselves. That I can enjoy them without having to own them. And that until I decide where I want to live and settle down again, nothing I can buy will make me feel at home.

Have you ever felt something similar? Maybe you’re in a temporary living situation as well. I’d love to hear any tips you’d like to share!


Also published on Medium.

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