The Life Laundry

The Life Laundry

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My family and I are homeless. And it feels good.

Last year, we sold the home of my dreams because it did not fit with who we were anymore. It was a beautiful house that we had spent many years of time and effort getting right. The problem is, that during that time we changed and moved on as people. It stopped becoming the house we’d loved, because we didn’t use 60% of it. To us, that was suboptimal and no longer in line with our values. It took too much time and too many resources to maintain: time and resources we could have been applying to things that really matter.

We got rid of two thirds of our stuff when we moved, as well. It feels so good every time we cut back in any way, and that really was a big clearout. Life feels lighter, the less we have, because we receive a huge time benefit every time we reduce things. That is how we make the time to think big, travel and connect in the ways that we do.

I don’t really crave things anymore, unless they save us time or improve our quality of life. I crave connection, experiences and learning. Owning stuff keeps us from those things, so I work very hard to minimise what I have, to create the space for what we enjoy.

During this past year, we experimented by living in a small rented place by the beach. We learnt a lot about the amount of space we actually need to live in. There are positives and negatives that we’ve taken away from this experience and will apply  to creating a new home of our dreams some day.

Just this week, we moved out of this latest house, and we have probably reduced what we own by a further 20%. And guess what? That feels good, too.

We will start next year with a blank page. With no place to live and no plan beyond the next few months. Who knows where it will take us? Or if indeed it will take us anywhere. The important thing is that space has been made for the next creations. And the big learning is – we now see life as a series of experiments and creations, rather than as something to fix.

Without ripping life up and painting a new picture, I don’t think we would ever have discovered that we can keep creating new things and, in essence, feel so much more alive as a result. There is so much to learn, so much to do and so much to see, that a ‘base’, a ‘career’ or even a home, just do not seem so relevant right now.

I have no idea who I will be, where I will be or what I will be doing in the future, but I know it will come from us being out there, rather than staying here. It will come from our greater exploration of what is possible.

It isn’t always easy to make radical lifestyle changes when you have a family. My wife and I have had years and years’ worth of conversations to get to this point, and I am lucky that we are agreed on this. It takes a great strength of conviction to stick to our beliefs when they are different to the consensus around us. There will always be voices in my head telling me that we ‘can’t’ and we ‘shouldn’t’, but we counteract them with reasons why ‘we can’ and ‘we will’. There are also so many questions that this type of action raises: ‘What about security?’ and ‘What about your son’s education?’ We have answers for all of these questions in our own minds, but they are not the answers you would typically hear.

Now, I am not suggesting that you take the same path as us. It is not for everyone. What I am suggesting is that you consider the ‘opportunity cost’ of everything you have: all the  opportunities you miss, owing to your ties of ownership. What is the real cost of owning a house, a car, the latest gadgets? In time, payment, maintenance costs, responsibilities? What liberation could you experience? And what opportunities could you take up if you didn’t have such ties?

In a world that encourages us to acquire more and more, through that process, could we be actually losing the one finite resource that we have? Time is precious, and a life with fewer things creates much more of it. Much more time to do the things you want to do and make the difference you want to make.

So I ask you to consider – what could you be doing with your time, if your life was less hampered by material things? Could you be enjoying the greater benefits of the life laundry, as I am?

To living small and thinking big!


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  1. Hi Marc – power to U!

    Yesterday I visited a lock up that I have rented (for ever and a day!) that has many of my ‘things’ in it…. they have sat there… serving no value to anyone… I have kept meaning to ‘sell’ many of the items however whilst standing there, evaluating my ‘stuff’ I realised that these things were a burden… several trips to a very large charity / furniture shop near me later, and I am left with only those precious family items in my lockup…. and much like you, I feel INCREDIBLY lighter!!

    Life is for living, experiencing and not accumulating… I’m excited to follow your next adventure – there is a great project in South London that could do with your support / help / assistance if interested… it is not for profit and could benefit greatly from your experience and learnings – I will ping you an email 🙂

    Have an incredibly ‘light’, relaxing, free x-mas and I look forward to re-connecting soon!

    Yours from Wimbledon,

  2. I like this, Marc. I would much rather get rid of something than buy something new. I’m excited to hear more about this homelessness experiment.

  3. I have this great system: whenever I buy a new piece of clothing, I accept the bag (rather than bringing in my environmentally friendly cloth bag). Then, I place that bag in my closet and as I unwrap the new clothing I take something out of my closet that no longer serves me. Maybe something old, maybe something that I thought I would like better than I actually do…and when the bag is full it goes to the donation bin. I believe in the law of circulation so if there’s something useful that others could use, I like to put it back into circulation…allowing an opening for flow into my life, too!

  4. I like this Linda. I do something similar. Every time I buy something new I try to get rid 2 things. That not only forces me to make better decisions about what I buy but also keeps me making things smaller as a I go. The local charity shops have done very well out of us in the past year or so. I like to think that all of our old stuff is going to good use.

  5. I just read what you mentioned to Linda…when you buy 1 thing, get rid of two. I’m going to implement this. I don’t typically buy a lot…so changed as I used to go shopping every weekend and come back with gadgets, clothes,etc… Now I actually decluttered and only have a few items I love of clothes and jewelry (and well, shoes, not there yet!) and I try not to buy things for the kids often unless they use their own money.:) I also would just spend more time outside with my family and just hug and soak up nature if I didn’t have to deal with the materialism. Insightful post!

  6. Thanks Lisa!

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