I love the idea of simplifying life, stripping it down, keeping it simple.
I just find it hard to do.
For every bag I take to the charity shop another miraculously appears.
For all my good intentions to stay mindful and do less, my monkey brain revolts, jumps around and keeps me frantic.
Just as I clear my email inbox I get a familiar warning that I'm approaching my storage limit.
So when I was informed that the home I had lived in for six years was going to be sold by my landlord (who lived in LA and would, I assumed, allow me to live there forever) I got into a spin. In my mind my home was being taken away from me, nay stripped from me: all thoughts that this would lead to a simpler, more gratifying life evaporated instantly.
I had a tragic and nightmarish interpretation of what was happening - with me the leading player: 51 and homeless.
Fast forward five months and I am surprised to report that this tragic dream has actually transformed into an amazing feat of decluttering. I am strangely ecstatic that I no longer have a home. Now, even as I write this I feel uneasy. I am aware that this goes against the prevailing wisdom. We are told that having our own roof over our head represents the pinnacle of our existence. (If we're accumulating positive equity and making a profit from renting it out at the same time then we really have made it.)
Or, at the very least it is the civilised minimum requirement of any member of society.
So how has this catastrophe led to such happy delirium?
Well, I did something that made no sense: I chose not to look for another place to rent. Instead I allowed myself to consider what would happen if I simply left myself to the mercy of others? What would happen if I simply told people the simple truth that I had nowhere to live?
Now, I've never been very good at receiving so the idea was shockingly novel to me.
The last time I had put myself at the mercy of others was during a spot of hitch hiking in the 80's when I was a student, so it's fair to say I was a little rusty on the asking front.
What resulted from this decision to lay myself open has been truly unexpected and remarkable.
I have received kindness like never before. Friends have offered spare rooms, acquaintances the same. I have been offered places to stay all over the world! Where did all this love and good will come from? I suddenly find myself on a wonderful adventure - spending quality time, not just cappuccinos, with good friends over breakfast, lunch and dinner. I get to stay in homes facing the British museum, in neighbourhoods I never knew. I get to contribute intimately to the lives of those I am sharing with.
Almost immediately I understood that far from being a bad thing it was turning out to be a miraculous thing. Receiving at this level is heightening my sense of gratitude, lifts my friendships and emboldens me to make courageous choices. It keeps me on my toes. Each time I leave one home for another the pull of attachment has to be broken as I say goodbye.
I am now four months into having no 'fixed abode' and I'm resistant to go back to my old conventional way of living. I could if I wanted - I have the means - but I think there's further to go on this journey. I am less attached to things living like this. In fact 'things' become a nuisance when you have to carry them around with you. It feels like having jumped the bungee of uncertainty. I just want to keep jumping back off for some more. I am acutely conscious of what I'm giving and acutely grateful for what I am receiving, and it is making me feel more alive and loved than ever.
If I needed proof that this situation is a win win and not just me sponging off friends then I look at the demand I appear to be in. A friend joked that I could start charging for my presence. All I know is that through being forced to let go of something I am experiencing life from an amazingly different perspective, one I had never dreamed of before. I've accumulated more and more homes, none of which are mine.Suggest a correction