Monday, May 26, 2008

Finding Inspiration in a Billionaire Without a Home


Nicolas Berggruen is a multi-billionaire that doesn't own his own home...or a car...or not much else, for that matter.

He lost interest in acquiring and owning material things. At some point, he realized that you can't buy happiness, nor can you find it in possessions...and then he sold off everything he had.

According to Mr Berggruen, “Living in a grand environment to show myself and others that I have wealth has zero appeal. Whatever I own is temporary, since we’re only here for a short period of time. It’s what we do and produce, it’s our actions, that will last forever. That’s real value.”

As a hopeless packrat, I am starting to really feel the burden of possessions and have recently embarked on a whole house de-junking adventure. While I am not too sure why I own most of what I have, I do understand why I can't just toss it away. My frugal nature prevents me. Some of it could be useful to someone else. But I can't locate the someone else that would provide a home for my unwanted things.

I had considered placing an ad somewhere, promising a 'gift' to anyone and everyone that shows up at my house on a particular weekend. If the turnout is good, I should have a lot more breathing space on the following Monday.

Just imagine the look on the face of the person that shows up and gets an Encyclopedia Britannica set, originally worth over $2000. I have been trying to get rid of that, unsucessfully, for the last 5 years!

There are other things that I can't part with, not because I need them, but because of the symbolic nature of the objects. They have a sentimental value to me. It's my feelings for the person they remind me of, that prevents me from discarding them.

Why do humans place such a high value on silly objects that were owned by deceased loved ones & friends, and people they will probably never see again? Is it a thought that by keeping these things that you are keeping a part of them alive? Keeping the good times of the past by keeping the objects of the past? Can the memory live without the objects? How much of a long term impact will it truly have on your life, your memories, and your feelings, if you part with grandma's old worn out sewing box? Or a bracelet that your deceased brother made for you back when you were 9 years old? Or baby clothes that were worn by your child, who is now all grown up?

I am going to use Nicolas Berggruen as my inspiration, and try to learn to let go of "stuff". At the very least, it will make it much easier to pack, the next time I have to move.

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