Indie Travel Challenge: Day 2: Options Over Possessions

November 2, 2015 in Travelogue


I decided a long time ago to opt out of stuff.

Actually, maybe I never opted in to stuff. But there was definitely a concrete point at which I took a left turn in my brain and decided to invest in memories, not things.

It’s why my kids had only one big birthday party each during their childhoods (and those were blow outs!) The others were intimate family affairs.

It’s why we often choose to “do something” instead of “give something” for holidays and milestones. You can read about Ezra’s elephants for his 10th birthday, camels for Christmas, Hannah’s 16th birthday request for Angkor Wat, and Elisha visiting Uncle Ho when he turned 12.

I walked the Camino for my 40th birthday.

I’ve decided to up my game for 42 this year. Stay tuned.

For me, the important thing is not my stuff.

Or my clothes. Or my house. Or my shoes. Or any of that. Don’t get me wrong. I like nice things. I have nice things. I just don’t have many things.

A friend was with me when I walked into a Nordstrom’s Rack in Portland last week and found a pair of boots I’ve been looking for for a while. You know, tall, black, leather “stripper boots.” The ones that go with every single thing. The ones that wear well and don’t wear out. I found them. I tried them on. I headed for the cashier. My friend laughed, “Did you even LOOK at the price?”

Nope. I hadn’t. I mean, it’s the RACK, it’s going to be cheap enough, right? (Okay, I did try on one pair that was $300… they were red… sadly, they did not fit). They were the right pair of boots. I would have paid up to $200 for them. I knew they had to be cheaper than that, so I was going for it. Buy what you like. Buy good quality. It will last.

That’s my theory on things. Price matters less than durability and enjoyment.

What’s my point? I’m not anti stuff. I buy things. I like things. I like nice things. I’ll pay for that. Incidentally, the boots were $98 with tax.

But, for me, it’s not about what I possess, or not.

And when I look at you, it’s not about what you possess, or not. I’m much more interested in who you are, where you’ve been and the memories you’ve collected. The people with the most interesting experience collections, now those people are fascinating.

I won’t ask you what car you drive, or which stores you shop at, or what kind of house you live in. But I will ask you where you’ve been, where you’re going, what you’re passionate about, what your dreams are and what you’re in love with, and what makes your heart sing.

I value options over possessions because he who has options has freedom.

  • He who has options has stability and security.
  • He who has options has the opportunity for creativity.
  • He who has options, has the option to adopt possessions.

He who has possessions may or may not have options.

It’s an interesting thing now that we’re settling a little more and traveling a little less to see a few possessions taking up residence. A record player. A sailboat. A vitamix blender. A new pair of boots. I value all of those things for the options and experiences they add to life. I enjoy owning them, but they do not own me.

Today’s challenge is to give away three things, and I’m thinking hard about what those three things will be, because, to be honest, most everything I have, I actively want or need. I’ve decided on a book, a package of incense (I have two) and a jar of preserves that I made last week. I’ll take them to my friend, who I am meeting for lunch, and who I also walked across Spain with last summer.

What about you? Are you taking up the challenge? What are you giving away?