I expected a lot of things when I started traveling, and most of them ended up being accurate. One thing which I didn’t expect, or plan for in any capacity, was just how drastically my general outlook on the world would change following the removal of material possessions. I don’t know why I didn’t expect it, really, cause it’s something that’s written about frequently. Prior to departure I’d absorbed countless articles discussing the sense of freedom from giving up all one owns. But I’ve never really been that attached to “stuff” – and I had no reservations about giving up mine – so I didn’t really see it as a big deal.
The shift in perspective doesn’t really have much to do with the things you own owning you, as such. It’s a state of mind. Whilst living a “normal” life, even as a relatively non-materialistic person, I was always thinking about the next “thing” to buy, or pay for, or do. I had absolutely no appreciation for how much time my mind spent locked into this rut of: earn money, buy something, do cool things with it, earn a bit more money, buy another thing.
Now that’s all gone. Not only do I have no “stuff” – but I can’t buy any new stuff at all unless I’m both able and willing to carry it on my back inside my hand-luggage-sized backpack around the world. Which is an extended way of saying: there’s nothing I want or need to buy, and even if I did – I couldn’t.
John O’Nolan — Taking Stock