By: Beatriz Craven, Guest Blogger
All Images Courtesy Beatriz Craven
“It’s just stuff, it’s just stuff, it’s just stuff” I repeated to myself as I handed over bag after bag of my belongings to Goodwill. Some included Gucci sunglasses from a few seasons ago. Others were filled with pretty linens, handbags, and little finds that had managed to make their way into my home and life. My husband and I were relocating from the Houston suburbs to the city. As a result, we were downsizing. Significantly. While we could probably just get a storage unit for our extra belongings, I decided to take on the challenge of editing our things down to the essentials. It seems more dramatic that way, and I kind of like it: a real test to my sense of materialism.
I was born in South America and came to the United States as a privileged child. I inherited my mother’s golden standard for brand labels and good quality products as a “must.” I’m sure some of this has to do with social class. The rest I believe is due to trusting brand names in a third world country. There always seemed to be a sense of comfort that came with knowing you had the real deal. Even now, I never buy store brand. God forbid my Advil look alike is actually nothing more than a sugar pill in a cheap box from Lord knows where (I’m going to go ahead and blame this delusional thinking on my parents). We are such a money and possession driven culture. I realize how easy it can be to get caught up in nice things (or wanting nice things) and I make it an honest effort to always remain grounded. Hence the Goodwill challenge. So when my husband asked me to go on a camping trip with him for two weeks I say let’s do it. I love being in nature and I’m sure I can handle giving up our daily comforts for the camping life for a while.
Well people, let me tell you something: two weeks of camping is a long time, enough to break a woman. Or well, to break me I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I was really enjoying the incredible nature, but in those first few days I had a really hard time surrendering myself to camp life. I could feel myself dragging my feet as we set-up the tent. Again. If I could curse out every last one of those little bugs, I would have. I became incredibly annoyed by the male capacity to whip it out and pee when I had to get friendly with the bushes and the trees in a way that I really didn’t want to. And on top of all that, I had to take off my nail polish. The horror! I hadn’t gone with bare nails since I was pre-pubescent. True story. It was finally time for a come to Jesus meeting.
I got over myself. I’m pretty sure it was our stop to shower at a place that required quarters for hot water that finally pushed me to a place of no shame. I would imagine it’s kind of like how a woman feels after giving birth and all those people see your vagay in all her glory. After that you kind of don’t give a damn anymore. Having reached my surrender, I went from enjoying the trip to truly loving the trip. There are some utterly fantastic places to visit in this country, and I was glad we got to experience it in such a cool, primitive way. It wasn’t until our drive home that I realized the extent of my outdoors adaptation. We stopped at a Jimmy John’s for one of their ridiculously delicious sandwiches and I used their facilities. I had a legitimate reaction of awe upon entering their restroom. “This place is BEAUTIFUL!” I gasped. A good indication that it was probably time to rejoin society.
First world problems. It’s so easy to get caught up in the luxuries. We don’t have to get crazy, but it’s so important to look past the superficialities of the world and get to what’s real. That’s where we find the good stuff. Plus, it can be kind of fun to rattle our own cages every once in a while and see what happens. You never know, you might surprise yourself with the joys that come with learning to live without.
About Beatriz: Beatriz Craven is desperately close to fulfilling her dream of becoming a psychologist with the completion of her PhD. She is an avid life enthusiast, loving wife, and movie fanatic.