Getting more, wanting less: a pair of snowballs.

By Amethyst

How much do you love your ritual hot shower? How soothing to massage the shampoo into your scalp, then to rinse, letting the warm water flow over your face and down your back? This ritual is an American obsession. We love it. We need it.

But you don’t. You know well you don’t. And not only that, but you may be aware of the potential harms of a daily hot shower.

We fight against even recognizing our national addiction. The morning ritual is too ingrained, too much a comfort, and the drawback (dry skin and hair) isn’t too great a price to pay.

There is a moment after people learn what Ruby and I are doing – that is, quitting the day jobs, living off the grid, traveling the world. After people hear that – right after telling us we’re living the dream they ask about money, and they ask about creature comforts. No, there are no twenty minute hot showers when we’re living in a tent on Parnassus. Yes, we are very fortunate that we are in a stable financial condition. No, we are not “glamping.” Yes, we have learned to go without. Yes, living in the woods is a big hassle.

What’s your big hassle? What are your comforts that you’ll have to give up to live as your truest self? Are they worth it? Like the shower, we make a calculation: which do we value more? These comforts, or our very essence, our sense of fulfillment, achieving our personal legend?

Sure, I can get all poetic and make it seem like an easy choice. But it isn’t easy. The lust for comfort lulls us to sleep*, makes us unaware that this is the very choice that we are making.

I am here to tell you that, yes, you have two options when it comes to being rich: you can get more, or you can want less. An old and simple idea, but what isn’t so simple is wanting less in a culture that tells us we need more, more, ever more. A lot of money advice is about how to “make do” with less. Life is not about making do. With a bit of self-reflection, the problem becomes psychological, not practical. You don’t have to “maple do” if you realize you didn’t really want it in the first place.

At some point, if you keep your eyes and mind open, something will happen and you will realize that getting more is a never ending snowball. Once you get that bit more, you will want yet a bit more. And more.

I can see you there. You’re nodding, you’re agreeing, you know that already, and frankly, I am repeating myself. How many blog posts can Amethyst write about freedom from material desire? Is he a monk yet?

Once you get it though, really get it that these things are not your key to happiness, that you’ve had the key all along, it gets into your bones, and it becomes your super power. The snowball starts rolling down a different hill altogether, and you start looking at things and saying, “You know, I don’t really need this. In fact, I don’t even want it.”

This isn’t “own one hundred things” minimalism. An obsession with cutting away can be almost as unhealthy as the obsession with getting more. Your latent superpower isn’t an active one, letting you identify excess and toss it merrily into the bin. No, it is passive, where you realize that your satisfaction as a human being passing through this world is no longer contingent on one of the things you are carrying.

“Ugh, I have so much stuff! I need to just get rid of half of this.”

Perhaps you should. Going through and purging can be a life-changing, almost holy experience. Attach, though, your purge to a new understanding of ownership. It is not the space the things take up in your home that prevents you from crossing the threshold, it is the space they take up in your mind. That space must be cleaned more regularly than your physical spaces. Things can occupy that space as ghosts: from the store, yet to be purchased, or from the junkyard, already dismissed but not cleansed.

Just as we get carried away in the energy of cleaning house, so too can the energy of clearing the mind of its possessions build upon itself, and we end up with a sparkling clean mental state before we realize.

*phrasing credit: Khalil Gibran

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