Bo and I are moving out of our place this week, we are moving into transitional accommodation as we continue to challenge societal norms and satisfy my need for freedom… I’m so excited it’s a bit ridiculous. Bo won’t stop asking if we can go to the farm NOW (in hindsight I may have told her about our exciting adventure a little early). I’m dreaming of days where we are surrounded by fresh air and mandarin orchards instead of a background soundtrack of ABC2 feeling suffocated/distracted by stuff that really isn’t serving us well.
A big part of this first six months of the nothing new project has been to focus on downsizing and creating a freedom from the connection to things. It’s been really hard at times, to take a long hard look at some of the stuff in our home and realise that holding on to things because maybe we might need them is crazy when someone else who needs them could be using them right now. A while ago we had a Pay What you Want garage sale, which was aweosme and fun and we even made a bit of cash, which was cool… but as I’ve been packing I’ve realised (with great horror) that we have so much stuff that I didn’t even remember that we had. Stuff that we don’t need. Stuff we can’t take with us. Good quality, practical useful stuff that we don’t have any use for. So instead of selling it I just started giving it all away. One by one things have left our house, cot mattresses, furniture, clothes, nappies, heaters… have all gone to homes where they will be loved and used and needed.
I’ve been wondering a lot about our connection with things, why we create such connections to things and why we seem to put such high monetary value on things that we sell second hand. I’ve got a box of letters and notes and photographs that are in someways useless, they are notes from my ten year old best friends some of which I still have lots of contact with, others are no longer alive… I have old love letters written by old boyfriends and little plastic trinkets that I acquired at important events in my life. I hang on to these things because in some way they are proof that those stages in my life ever happened, even if only to myself. When I pick up that plastic, half chewed little yellow duck, I am instantly back in the pit, 15 and free, dancing to the beats of a favourite DJ at an underground rave… When I hold the tiny note from grade seven with a picture of Silverchair on one side and on the other the words “hey milney, did you know that the spice girls are gonna break up? and silverchair rules… hanson sucks… i love youuuu” I’m sitting on those little plastic chairs next to my gorgeous friend who died a few short years later. For me that note reminds me that she existed, that our friendship existed, it reminds me of all the things she taught me and all the stories that we shared. It’s a scrap of blue card covered in sticky tape. But it holds so many meanings deep within it.
These things that I have, these material possessions that could be sold for money or traded for something else of value… to me, they don’t hold the same value as a little square of blue card and whilst so many people would argue that money makes the world go ’round… I’m really hoping to prove, if only to myself, that it doesn’t have to. That the value of giving to other people, with absolutely no expectation of anything in return, is far more powerful than money. We are not rolling in cash, by any means, I’m a single mum living on a part time wage and part of a government parenting pension… But we also don’t need lots of money. We are doing just fine with out it. What would we need it for? What we need is people, and surrounding ourselves with kind, community minded people is transforming the way I see the world, it’s transforming the way I feel! Stuff is just stuff, it has no purpose if it is not being used. There are far too many people out there in the world who have little needs, and if we can meet them?
That cake in the top photo is a Herman the German Apple cake… it’s like the ultimate community cake. It’s made to be shared and to be handed around the community, cared for, fed, loved and eaten with friends. Herman is a friendship cake, it’s a sourdough cake starter that takes 10 days to create and then on day 10 you split it into four and share three with your friends and so the starter continues, and has been continuing within our community for a few months now. I know whenever I need a little Herman in my life all i have to do is put my hand up and a starter will be made available. Sharing is a beautiful thing, it builds community…
Without community what do we have? Not a lot at all.