How much do I really need?

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“Possessions are just such a burden.!

I look at her, skeptically. She doesn’t look like a person who’s lacking possessions, much less like someone who’s particularly burdened by them. What I see is the face of an elderly, very proper lady, maybe in her early 60s. She is someone who is clearly accustomed to luxury. I am skeptical because I would have considered her part of a generation for who economic success is enormously important.

And she is highly successful: at present she lives in a beautiful apartment in one of the most expensive cities in the world. She bemoans the fact that livig costs in general and rents in particular seem to be rising on a daily basis in her new home. She and her husband, as she goes on to tell me, thought about buying a flat there, but they eventually dropped the idea. “Why?” I ask, curiously, and rather directly. My impulse was faster than the good instinct that would have normally kept me from uttering such a question. And then she surprises me with her answer:

Fashion Editorial | Second Hand Store Pick n Weight in Berlin Mitte | Vintage | Übersättigung

“Possessions are just such a burden.!

Fashion Editorial | Second Hand Store Pick n Weight in Berlin Mitte | Vintage | Übersättigung
Fashion Editorial | Second Hand Store Pick n Weight in Berlin Mitte | Vintage | Übersättigung

The way she says it, with a dismissive wave of her hand, leaves no doubt about how genuine she is. The lady clearly spoke from experience.

“But isn’t it nice to have a security for the days of old age, and be it only a small flat somewhere you enjoy to live?”
“Yes, but I bought a small flat in Vienna, and that’S all I need.”

I thought about it for a moment. She was right. What more doe you need? I grew up in a world, in which success was measured in figures. The equation went something like this: more is more. An infallible marker of success was that you owned more than others.

There was a time, when capitalism held the promise of real happiness. Back when globalization was far less advanced than it is now. Back when there were no sharing apprs, no Air BnB, not even co-working spaces. That time fell largely into the long age prior to the advent of digitalization. The spirit that summed up the middle-class mentality of the analogue aget was:

work hard, build a house.

How true does that approach hold today? Am I asking myself that question because I grew up in times of economic boom?
Is it because I own everything I need in life, and more?

Am I saturated?
Are we all over-saturated?

The thing is, while a certain kind of Marie Kondo mentality takes hold of me from time to time, I am at least as often enthralled by the idea of the new. A new item of clothing, a new piece of furniture, anything that promises a bit of a change. Guess I am not that saturated after all yet. My thirst for novelty is not easily quenched, maybe it never will be.

But who really needs multiple cars, houses, a closet that bursts at the seams? And can our desire for “new” only be satisfied with newly produced items of consumer goods?

I try to give myself an honest answer to this question, and I find myself hesitating.

Fashion Editorial | Second Hand Store Pick n Weight in Berlin Mitte | Vintage | Übersättigung
The trip to the second hand store did indeed feel like a burden. So many clothes, discarded by their previous owners. For many, these stores are treasure troves, but to me it felt stifling and suffocating.

How do I invest my precious time in life?
Do I invest it in work that contributes to economic growth?
Do I invest it in personal growth?
Do I invest it in material pleasures or rather in immaterial experiences?


What is more important to me?
Personal or economic growth?

Fashion Editorial | Second Hand Store Pick n Weight in Berlin Mitte | Vintage | Übersättigung
I do believe that a certain financial stability is important to maintain inner balance. But where do you draw the line?
At which point do you cross over from necessity into decadence?
How do I reach a balance between financial freedom, without becoming a slave to the freedom of being able to buy more than I need?

“Possessions are a burden.”

I guess I’ll be thinking about this simple statement for quite some time to come.

This post is also available in RU DE

May 26, 2019
Category - blog, fashion, Life, personal

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