“Have you seen my green shirt?” I hollered across the house to Jordan.
“What green shirt?” He yelled back.
“My only green shirt!” I shouted while burying myself in the clothes hamper. Then it hit me, I really missed this shirt. This was THE shirt that I wanted to wear. It was my go-to shirt for running in, grocery shopping, throwing on with jean shorts and it made my eyes “pop”. Had I ever before realized how much I appreciated this shirt? Honestly, probably not. I had a ton of other shirts that were similar, but not now. I had chosen to keep this shirt instead of the others. That meant something. This shirt held value to me.
My attitude and gratitude toward things have shifted in this process of going tiny. We have sold or donated about 70% of our stuff. Each item we now own is important to us. It serves a purpose and/or brings us happiness in some way. Items that I have chosen to keep (books, clothes, décor) all mean something to me. It hasn’t always been that way.
With a world that is constantly advertising to us that we need this or we have to upgrade to the latest and greatest, the items we consider precious or necessary can sometimes get lost in the midst of the ever-growing pile of clutter. After sifting through each and every item, I now find myself realigned and surrounded by pieces that really do hold significance and fill me with a gratefulness I never felt even when I had a lot more things. I believe in quality over quantity. I don’t have nearly as many clothes, but what I do have are my favorite pieces that make me feel good, including my unearthed green shirt.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter stated, “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.”
Now please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not against having things. I have things, my daughter has things, my dogs have things. There is nothing wrong with having things. My qualm, and recent revelation, has come from experiencing that you can lose yourself in trying to show your success with possessions, which are often the symbolic trophy of the “American Dream” achievement.
I heard one minimalist say, “The American Dream is a template, it is not THE template.” I’m starting a new template and it’s a little different and unconventional. I invite you to take a look at your current template and if it’s not what you want or intended, I am your biggest cheerleader to tear it up and write something that does resonate with you. Go find your green shirt (fingers-crossed it’s clean).