De-clutter, de-materialize and de-hoard your Life. You will love the way you feel and the energy that flows!
One of the biggest blessings of our bankruptcy is that Vaani and I have learnt to understand what we truly need, dump all our wants, recognize and celebrate what we have and give away anything that we don’t need. At every stage, over the past decade, we have been forced to rethink and appreciate the critical difference between what we want and what we need. Even when we are willing to live with what we need, we have often had to make do with what we have. Plus, important, we have both, driven by necessity and through reflection, learnt the art of giving!
An enduring theme in our Life – apart from our physical sense of cashlessness – over the last several years has been a constant recalibration of our living and working space. We had to first close down our office and move it into our apartment. Obviously, everything that was fitting into our office could not make it into our home. So, we gave away more than 800 kilos of material as waste and e-waste. Additionally, we gave away some computers, two printers, a scanner, white boards and filing cabinets. All of these were useable though they were not re-saleable. So we found a charity that we could donate them to. Then when we were forced to vacate our apartment in Bishop Garden – because of our inability to pay rent – and move to a much smaller living space, we had to give away a lot of furniture. Again we chose charities and people who we thought can benefit from what we were giving away. Around this time, an epochal decision was made. I had personally collected over 600 books – on management and leadership – over my 25+ years as a working professional. I gave them all away to a friend who runs a training company in Bangalore. My collection of books was not just personally curated by me; I was fiercely protective – and possessive – about it. But there was no way I could move the collection into our new home – there was simply no space! And we hated the idea of selling the books to a kabadiwala. So I gave my prized collection away to my friend’s company! I strangely did not feel any sense of loss when my friend drove up and took away my books. I actually felt very good that my labor of over a quarter of a century will be useful to someone, somewhere.
But this decision to give away my books, did not include another, equally prized, collection – editions of Harvard Business Review (HBR) from 1997 – over 130 issues, carefully and tastefully preserved! I held on to my HBR collection for some more years. Until this morning, that is. Again for reasons of space and having found a worthy beneficiary in a reputed business school, I am giving away my almost 20-year collection of HBR.
As Vaani and I evolve through Life, we find that all we need is a roof over our head, some clothes, a laptop each, a smartphone each, internet connectivity and food on the table. We have been car-less for a long time now. So we know we can survive handsomely without a vehicle of our own. If we are seeking work, I mean work that involves a commercial proposition, it is only because we feel responsible towards retiring our debt and repaying all our creditors who have reposed their trust in us. Once we fulfil this responsibility – we don’t know exactly by when this will happen, but do believe it will happen sooner than later – all we want to do is to continue to serve humanity by being useful in our own small way.
So, we follow a simple principle: every six months, we give away anything – barring of course our passports and important legal or financial documentation – we have not used in those six months. It is a simple rule of thumb. And it has worked for us big time. It makes our home lighter. It makes us feel better because, be it an old printer or an old suitcase, we find great joy in reaching it to someone who may use it more frequently than us. And that’s how I decided on giving away the HBR collection this morning.
Vaani and I will remain eternally grateful to our bankruptcy for teaching us the value of de-cluttering, de-materializing and de-hoarding our Life. Some call it minimalistic living – which is the art of living with the bare essentials. Whatever it is, we can vouch from our own experience, that it teaches you to be happy with what is, with what you have, despite the circumstances!