Living Without ‘Stuff”

I love washing. Not the noun the verb. To wash. To have a shower, to have a bath. the lovely soap suds late at night or the refreshing shower gels early in the morning. To feel all clean and pink like an angry newborn as you emerge the colour of a boiled lobster only to slather yourself in various balms and potions. Getting sweaty and the clean again is my daily happiness.

But then our boiler broke.

Now this was going to be interesting as everyone in our family handled the situation differently. Everyday my mother would boil a few kettles of hot water medieval lady style to douse herself with. My sister opted for not washing at our house but instead has been taking trips to friends and use theirs. However, my addiction to the tub couldn’t and wouldn’t be satiated by this psuedo washing. Even when I briefly had to spend the night in hospital I hobbled down the corridor clutching at my IV stand to simply stand under a warm trickle of water.

So, inevitably, I took the plunge into the icy cascades.

And what? I lived. I flourished! I emerged day after day refreshed and invigorated (and yes, okay, also shivering) but most importantly alive. At the end of the day hot water was a lovely add on that I wanted but really didn’t need. I was a Amazonian Queen badass who didn’t need to be coddled into my wash, no sir, I became a trencher. After all hot water is something we will always want but don’t always need.

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I think this goes back to our reliance on ‘stuff’. The fact we gather things about us, cling to garments and objects that we really don’t need but attach significant importance to. But why? We can’t take it with us when we die, but we still hold on to it!

I’ll always think back to when I went skiing in Austria being stuck on a ski lift (which everyone knows is part of the joy of skiing) my ski instructor told me that she always stayed the winter in Austria, then in the spring travelled to New Zealand to work in their extreme sports and then spent the sumer in the Carribean teaching surfing. Her family never exchanged gifts at Christmas because they didn’t want these objects to weigh each other down. Instead they just always made an effort to be in the same place at the same time so they could be together that day.

The others I was with shook their heads ‘it will change when you’re older’, ‘no stability’. But I was inspired. This cool woman was free, free from the expectations society put on her to join the world of ‘stuff’. Whatever anyone else said she seemed really happy. What she said to me has always stayed with me and I hope wherever she is she’s still as happy as she was with her life.

Today I had my first hot bath for about four weeks. I crouched in the boiling water before I could sit, slowly easing my body back into the hot water I had taken for granted for so long. It was glorious and then too hot. Maybe it was ungrateful of me but I ended my bath spraying cold water in my face. A reminder that I am still at my core a hardcore washer. But it was a good reminder not to get too attached to things in life. And we can always get a new perspective if we are just brave enough (or in my case forced to) make a change.

Yes Helen!
Yes Helen!

2 thoughts on “Living Without ‘Stuff”

  1. Hey, thanks for liking my bellainbristol post on the Ideal Writing Space. Found this post really thought provoking though I’m not sure I’ll follow your example with the cold showers!

    1. Ahh no worries, it was really well written and I can totally empathise with having to improvise a less than idyllic writing space! Thank you so much for having a look, it’s always really encouraging getting feedback and don’t worry I think the whole experience has taught me to deeply appreciate a HOT shower! 🙂

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