Death by Materialism

Not too long ago, I was fortunate enough to bring all that I once dreamed of into my possession.

At the peak of my material greed, at twenty-four years of age, I believed to have it all: the thriving business, the swanky top-floor apartment, the expensive clothes, the luxury cars, and financial independence to the highest degree. Everything in my life seemed to be going so well. Until one evening, deep into the early hours of the morning, I was suddenly awoken by a voice - a voice that I had never heard before, a voice full of wisdom which owned soothing notes of warmth and compassion as it whispered the following words in my ear: 'That in which you seek will not be found in externals; the answer comes from within.'

During this time, I was becoming increasingly burdened by the physical possessions I had acquired over the years, and despite having more money in the bank than I knew what to do with, good health, and my freedom, there was an integral part of my existence that seemed to be missing. I was unhappy with myself as a person and had become quite depressed at the lifestyle I had built for myself - mainly due to allowing myself to become so egocentric and materialistic. So, in a cowardly attempt to curb my feelings of misery, I laced up my shoes, zipped up my jacket, grabbed my wallet and drove to the nearest town where I could, at least for a short while, fill the gaping void that lived on inside of me by, in literal terms, shopping until I dropped.

But the frustrating thing was, the more hours I worked on my business the unhappier I became. At one stage, when the flame of life burnt too brightly, I even contemplated reverting back to taking drugs to keep up with the crushing workload that continued to pile up. ‘I know I should sleep, but if I sniff a few lines of cocaine now, I will be able to stay awake and smash through this seemingly never-ending to-do list.’ As sad as it sounds, there weren’t too many days that went by where I didn’t seriously consider acting upon this self-destructive strategy in order to “keep up with things.”

And as for the monetary side of things, the more money I earned and spent, the uglier my life grew. Soon, my obsession with consumerism grew wildly out of hand, which branched out to the point where I was no longer purchasing designer clothes or expensive watches or branded kitchen appliances, I was now signing my name on the dotted line of finance agreement forms for luxury cars. ‘If the clothes and accessories haven’t provided me with the feeling I’m chasing, a car surely will,’ I thought to myself. That thought continued to gnaw away at my mind until I was eventually faced with a fresh set of problems - which arose shortly after purchasing my first car: ’If the first car didn’t quite do it, surely the second car will.’ And the vicious cycle continued, until one morning, I woke up to find three sports cars parked on my driveway, each faster and more visually appealing than the last; each more expensive than the last; each costing more than I could afford. And guess what? Each of the three cool-looking cars was owned by the master of discontentment himself: me.

On reflection, I should have been more focused on creating a better life for myself than earning a bigger income. I should have valued compassion over consumable products and I should have concentrated on my family and friends over single-serving women that I had just met on Tinder. But when you’re stuck in the world of constant hustle and bustle, money, power, and recognition, it can be a difficult place to escape from as you are blind to anything other than the world that you are trapped in.

You see, when we get too caught up in the hum-drum of life, caring only about work, financial riches, materialistic possessions, and ourselves, our life becomes lifeless. So much so that we often forget who we are and why we began this journey in the first place - and that time moves so fast that we are left in the lurch wondering what has happened and where time has gone. In the knowledge of this, it is of great importance to first understand the rule of detachment before you begin attaching yourself to certain things (and certain individuals) - in knowing full-well that the very thing you wish to acquire, once in your possession, can very quickly snowball into the one thing you wished it would never turn out to be. As the famous quote reads: "Be careful what you wish for."

Whilst I had achieved all of the personal goals I had set for myself back then, at least that of the external nature, in the process of doing so I had bypassed the most important goal in life: happiness. And as a result of my ignorance and supreme confidence in that ‘No man can ever have too many toys,’ I reached a stage of complete hopelessness in my life - I was lost without a map and harboured little faith of ever been found. It’s a strange feeling owning everything but at the same time feeling like you have nothing.

But who was to understand this experience I was going through other than myself? I mean, I never opened up to anybody about my feelings - not to my friends, my family, or even to myself. I was terrified of expressing my true emotions, and at the same time, I had become deadened by the social image I was slugging around. My friends and family were blinded by the image of success I had created for myself - they were deaf to the sound of my inner cries and oblivious to the severity of the storm that was blowing inside my mind.

And then one morning, toward the latter part of 2018, after what seemed like countless years of applying unnecessary pressure to my life, my pipes finally burst. This was the time when I said to myself that 'Enough is enough' and decided to throw in the towel on my previous life.

As cliche as this may sound, but within a few days of experiencing this sudden urgency to transform my life, I had sold and donated over ninety-percent of my personal belongings. I had also made arrangements to move out of my oversized apartment, successfully negotiated payment plans with multiple creditors I was indebted to and planned a trip to travel around America for three-months with just a backpack.

All in all, downsizing and simplifying my life has been the best decision that I have ever made. I now own less than twenty-three items to my name, and as a result, I can honestly say that I feel freer, happier, and more at peace than I ever have before. I have not looked back since.

There really is a sort of magic to living a life of less.

Thanks for reading.