Liberation from Possessions

As recent travel re-ignited my barely burning spark of excitement, it was burning again, but still missing good fuel to burst into full flame. This fuel came in vast supply after I got rid of most of my possessions. I have not felt that liberated for years. Taking stuff that I owned and dumping it in the garbage bin was hands down one of the most liberating things in my life and definitely the most liberating since I got submerged in the corporate lifestyle.

I was so frustrated with my “Life in Boxes” situation, that I really wanted to settle in a stable place and live there so I can unbox and have access to all of my stuff for the first time in two years. The reason for my last move was the noise made by people living above me. I went to check my new place and it was in a quiet apartment building. I also liked the fact that the apartment building was for adults only. This meant there would be no screaming kids or obnoxious teenagers yelling in the hallways. Everything was suggesting that this was the place. I could not wait to move out of the noisy basement suite and when the day came, I rented an SUV and spent a long weekend moving to my new two bedroom apartment.

The moving was killing me already. It was a tough job and screwed over my entire long weekend again. Not to mention the cost of SUV rental and extreme amount of headache one puts themselves through moving. So when I was eventually moved, I felt the relief upon my skin, still shaking from the pains of recent move. I went to enjoy my first night in my new apartment, set myself a bed up, laid my tired head and body down, closed my eyes and went to have a peaceful night after months of extreme headache due to stomping roommates. What happened next was the biggest nightmare of my life.

I was tired as all hell and really needed a rest. I lay down and at that moment the people who lived in the apartment above me came home from a long weekend out. The noise they made was far worse than what I was getting from my previous roommates. What’s even worse, these people never quit. I was so tired I’d fall asleep standing. My eyes were so heavy I’d need pliers to open my lids up, yet the noise kept me awake whole night. I turned into a zombie and all of my faith in humanity was gone. I left one place to escape this stomping noise, went through extreme hassle of moving and worked day and night to move in three days only to come to the same and worse. I was ready to kill someone.

I basically realized that I can’t stay here. This noise was overbearing and there was too much of it. The following day I wrote up a letter introducing myself to the neighbours who lived above me and explained how hard it was for me last night with the noise they were making and how they didn’t quit whole night and asked them for consideration so we can all live soundly.

I dropped the letter off under their door and few minutes later someone knocks on my door. I open the door and there’s this absolutely gorgeous Asian girl standing there with my letter. I didn’t know what to say she was so gorgeous. I stuttered some incoherent crap and she left letting me know that her family faces the same issue as me as neighbours above them also make noise. I was devastated. I was defeated. I was broken, ready to quit on life. I moved six times in last two years. Because of that I was not able to unpack the stuff from my boxes because what’s the point of unpacking if I have to spend a week putting it back inside the boxes to allow for another move. And now after two years I thought I had found the place where I would be able to stay for a long time, so I could unpack my boxes and enjoy the items inside, but people living above me destroyed this hope in one night. My attempt to resolve it in a diplomatic way failed and I was left with nothing but tears in my eyes.

What happened next, however, was the most liberating feeling I felt since the beginning of my corporate lifestyle. I looked at the boxes which I have just moved in and said to myself – that’s it! I’m done moving it. I put a basket next to each box and went through stuff. Anything that I did not have in my hand in last two years went in the basket which I then dumped into the garbage bin outside. Anything I did not see an immediate need for went in the garbage. I didn’t care how expensive it was. I’ve dumped electronics, I’ve dumped jewelry, I’ve dumped merchandise I had for sale in my shop – I’ve simply dumped three quarters of my possessions without second thought.

After it was all dumped, I looked at the apartment which was before stuffed with boxes and now reasonably empty and felt an indescribable feeling of liberation. I felt as though a major burden I was crumbling under for years was taken off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe again. I have liberated myself from possessions and it made me feel happier than I have felt in years.

My reasoning behind dumping everything was that it would not be worth the time trying to sell it. I imagined myself taking picture of each item I have, then posting classified ads about it. Some people would respond with loads of questions I would have to answer to give myself a chance to sell. Most would not go ahead with the purchase so I would spend a lot of time dealing with potential buyers who will not buy in the end. And what would I get? I’d end up selling way below reasonable value. So I’d be giving everything away anyway. When I took all that into account, I came to conclusion that amount of time it would cost me to post an ad and deal with potential buyers and amount of money I’d be able to recover per item would not be worth it. If I invested this time into something sensible, I could actually make decent money so why waste it in a stressful way? It just made no sense so dumpster it was. No second guessing – straight to the bin. If I look at my acting back then through the eyes of now, I feel extremely proud of myself. I now understand the value of time and how precious it is. I am glad I made it a priority over a couple of bucks these days and weeks of work I’d have to put towards potential sale would bring. Even before my awakening this undisputable understanding of my true self was there.

This whole dumping of possessions was kind of funny because I filled the whole giant bin outside in one day. I had to wait till dump trucks came to empty it and then I filled it again all by myself. I realized that other tenants in the apartment building would get angry with me for not being able to fit any of their actual home garbage in, so I waited each day until late at night to dump my possessions. Nobody saw who filled the dumpster so nobody knew whom to blame. I have filled it up like that several times. Dumptruck doesn’t come every day so my doing was responsible for crippling the garbage disposal abilities of all people who lived in the apartment.

This took place at the beginning of April 2009. It was before I went to Iceland, it was before I realized what corporate lifestyle did to me and decided to turn my life around. This liberation from possessions took place because I have had enough of moving my junk around and never even using it. Little did I know at the time that this small act would set me on my merry way to a better life. Yes, I still had the noise to deal with, but the thought of moving was not nearly as scary anymore. And now that I was free from most of my possessions, it has also become clear that when I turned my back on a leased car, it was the best decision I could have made.

From Normal Job to Working for the Government

Given that I had master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, my first job was related. I worked as a computer analyst and the only thing that kept me there was the location. We had our offices within large textile factory where 90% of workers were young females. I hated my job, but I loved being surrounded by young girls at all times. We had some kind of arrangements with owners of the factory so we did all the electrical maintenance and repairs and since there was a lot of computerized machinery in use, things were often breaking down in which case we’d step in to make it work again. I didn’t mind fixing these machines since it involved talking to girls who were at a complete loss when these machines broke down since it kept happening often, they saw me as their savior. In spite of frequent interactions with young girls, I hated the job and was gone out of there after a year.

The artist in me eventually prevailed and I started playing with a video camera I had bough. I got so into videotaping, I started observing how pros do it and polished my own style. This has eventually lead me to my second job which I actually enjoyed to the fullest – I became a videographer. From the beginning I would do crappy video jobs including weddings and parties, but eventually stepped myself up to working on TV commercials and music video clips for bands. It was quite awesome, but I was still part of the corporate madness and felt something was missing in my life.

From videography there was only a small step towards photography. I still looked at the worked through the glass of a lens, I have only swapped moving pictures with stills. While the principal idea was the same, photography offered whole different fields to discover. I enjoyed it well enough to eventually take a big step in my life and start my own photography business (previous jobs all involved working for the man).

My photography business went all right from the beginning but times were getting tougher by the day. With introduction of digital cameras, people were able to print their own photos at home so photo development market dwindled. Furthermore, prices of quality cameras dropped to a level affordable by virtually anyone, so 90% of all people you meet on the street became your potential competition, since they all owned good enough equipment. Add to it the ever expanding big box stores with primary philosophy to eliminate small business owner and you have the situation in which it was rather impossible to remain afloat. I have abandoned the business and got employed once more.

This time I scored a job with the government. There are many things to like about working for the government – the pay is not much (unless you’re in top management), however government pays half of your medical and personal insurance installments and after you have worked for them for a year, you get your full dental paid for by them too. That’s a nice cut down on your expenses right there.

Another good thing about working for the government is that come 4pm, you get off and you’re heading home. I have not known this in any of my previous jobs. Ever since I started working for the government, I was basically done with work for the day at 4pm and had the rest of the day for myself. Not to mention that fact that I’d get whole weekends off – 2 consecutive days off work. Unheard of! But that’s not all – if it’s a long weekend, I get entire long weekend off. Wow! That’s right, working for the government has its perks. With most other jobs you get one day off a week. It matters little whether it’s long weekend or not, the employer will expect you at work. However when you get a job with the government, you’ll have yourself three days off in a row on a long weekend. Sweet.

After I have scored that government job, I felt like this was the terminal destination for me as far as jobs are involved. I was gonna sit quietly in my cubicle, perform my tasks to the best of my knowledge, write annual performance reports and do it over and over for many years until I retire. You always get paid when you work for the government and you always get paid on time. It bothered me not that the pay was nothing stellar. I had a steady and secure income with the job that left me enough spare time for myself. This job was a keeper and I intended to keep it.