That is one of the most memorable quotes from the movie Fight Club. I was painfully reminded of that when moving from Providence (Rhode Island) to Miami (Florida) last July.
I spent considerable money and much effort putting all my stuff, or most of it, in a cargo van. I drove 1500 miles South and was going to put everything on a self-storage facility until I either rented an apartment in Miami or took some other decision about where to go. While I was shopping for some shelves at North Miami’s Home Depot something very surprising happened…
Someone broke in to the van and stole several thing from it!
Among them there was my suitcase with laptop computer, jewelry, swiss watch, credit cards, documents, work materials. In other boxes or bags stolen were my professional SLR camera, 27″ Apple monitor, AR-15M4 rifle, camping and rock climbing equipment, snowboard, cell phones.
After a few moments of incredulity I called the police, got a police report done, and moved the rest of my stuff into the self storage unit. I have to admit I was quite pissed off. That evening I was going to have a date with a charming lady I know in Fort Lauderdale and was considering canceling it.
“But I will not have the thieves also take away my date!” I thought, and decided to go anyway, have a great time, and not even make any comment about what happened. While driving there this quote from the movie kept coming back at me. The things you own end up owning you… I had a revelation.
Next day I checked to see if my car insurance or the rental insurance would cover the loss. They didn’t. I even considered trying to sue the Home Depot and squeeze some out of it but later decided not to. Actually I looked over some of the stuff I had left and either sold it, donated, or trashed it. Since then I am trying not to buy anything. My friend Carlos gave me a new computer screen and I bought a new computer to replace the old one and that was it.
I have much less stuff now. At this moment I am even traveling with mot more than what I can put on my bike. And I never felt more free in my life. The physical weight of carrying your stuff is only comparable to the psychological weight of having to care for it. I don’t know if I would ever discover that, if not for some marginals in North Miami that did me a favor when they took from me something I actually don’t need.