Courtesy of The Minimalists

Courtesy of The Minimalists

What are you prepared to walk away from? This oft-unasked question shapes one of the most important principles in my life.

We are all familiar with the age-old hypothetical situation in which our home is burning and we must grab only the things that’re most important to us. Of course most of us would not dash into the inferno and reach for material things first; we’d ensure the safety of our loved ones and pets. Then, once our loved ones were safe, we’d grab only the irreplaceable things. Say, photo albums, computer hard drives, family heirlooms. Everything else would be lost in the conflagration.

I tend to look at this situation a tad differently, though, taking the hypothetical a bit further…

There is a scene in Heat in which Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) says, “Allow nothing in your life that you cannot walk out on in 30 seconds flat.” Although my life isn’t anything like McCauley’s (he’s the movie’s bad guy), I share his sentiment (for the most part). That is to say, almost everything I bring into my life—material possessions, ideas, habits, and even relationships—I must be able to walk away from at a moment’s notice.

Many of you will disagree with me because this ideology might sound crass or insensitive to you, but I’d like to posit to you that it is actually the opposite: our preparedness to walk away is the ultimate form of caring.

If I purchase new possessions, I need to make certain that I don’t assign them too much meaning. Being able to walk away means that I won’t ever get too attached to my belongings. And being unattached to stuff… Read more on The Minimalists


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