My three-year-old daughter hates a bath. Well, the idea of a bath really. Once she is in the bath, she is impossible to get out. Every few days, her long, curly, blonde hair becomes a gnarled mess of yogurt and dirt, and I require that she take a bath. After her bath, I wrap her warm, steaming body in a hooded Elsa towel and sit her down on my lap to brush her hair. She was born with a full head of hair, and three years later it is reaches the waist of her pants. The moment her tushy hits my lap, she begins to wiggle and whine, “Mommy, I want to be freeeeee!!!!” I believe that 90% of her to opposition to baths, is the hair brushing. But, of course, hair brushing is necessary… at least once or twice a week anyways.
I am reminded of my little girl’s cry for freedom as I plod around my home in the dark, turning off lights and tucking in little bodies. Every couch pillow has been tossed on the floor ( a particular pet peeve of mine). There is a pile of naked baby dolls in a tent that has been erected in my breakfast area. Ubiquitous piles of paper crowd every surface, and I’m fairly certain I just pierced my toe on the tiny sword of a tiny warrior.
My house is full of stuff. Really full of stuff. Beyond the kid’s stuff, of which there is far more than required, the adult stuff has reached a level. I am somehow a person who doesn’t particularly crave the material, but also has no ability to part with it once it has been acquired. I still have the preemie clothes my 7-year-old son wore in the hospital. I mean… they fit baby dolls. They are in perfect condition. I can’t just toss them out.
It is an accepted notion that as we become adults, we will acquire a home and the necessary accouterments that go along with it. Furniture and appliances, cars to fill our garages, which ultimately sit in our driveways because our garages are filled with discarded things we no longer fine useful. It is also widely accepted that we will tirelessly work to pay for, keep clean, and protect these things. Paychecks will disappear before we ever see them. Saturdays will be spent tidying. Countless hours will be spent chasing kids off of sofas with bowls of sloppy, chocolate, cereal milk. But for what is all this effort?
No matter how diligent we are, one day we will find that the springs are poking through our stained sofa. Our new car will have received one hell of door ding in the parking lot of the grocery store, and eventually, the house we covet will become too small, too big, or too outdated for our personal style. We will move on to something newer, bigger, shiny, leaving behind that thing which we once so fiercely protected.
I once believed this was the only way to live. That our lives were meant to be spent working for the weekend, paying for the stuff, and running nowhere on a worn treadmill in a smelly gym under fluorescent light. Then one day, I realized, there is another way. I saw places where the water was crystal blue and teeming with fluorescent fish. I sat on the top of a mountain and looked out as far as the eye could see. I walked aimlessly through a farmer’s market, filled with strange fruits and deliciously ripe vegetables. I felt lighter. I felt free. And when I returned to the home filled with stuff, I felt trapped.
The truth is, the stuff owns you… not the other way around. It requires all of your time, attention, and money. While the places require nothing from you. They don’t empty you, they fill you, with wonder, joy, hope, and peace. I pray this blog will encourage and inspire you to travel with your family. To see the world and detach from the culture of stuff. Just like my little girl, I want to be free. I want to step off the treadmill of life and just keep walking. Leave it all behind. Except the WiFi… I’ll keep that.