Achieving Nothing (No Thing)

Laurie Keynote Speaking Using Baggage as Props

We arrive in this world empty-handed, and we leave the same way, with nothing (no thing). To me that’s a pretty big hint that we don’t need much. Yet somehow in the time between birth and death most of us manage to acquire and accumulate a multitude of items, stuff, things.

The National Association of Professional Organizers says we have so much “stuff” that each person spends approximately one year of their life looking for lost items.

As a society we’ve acquired so much “stuff” over the last 3 decades that the self-storage industry is the fastest growing new industry in the United States. It’s grown so fast that in the last 12 years the use of self storage space has grown from 1 in every 17 households to 1 in every 10. That’s an increase of 65 percent.

Many people’s garages are so filled with stuff—some to the rafters—that they can’t be used for parking their vehicle. But that’s only one type of clutter—material clutter. There’s mental and emotional clutter as well.

My desire? To be baggage free—body, mind, and spirit—prior to my exit point. How about you?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved

29 thoughts on “Achieving Nothing (No Thing)

    • Kim – You’re right, I did a presentation to the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) at Port Edwards in Algonquin. We were on the second floor (right over the coy fish pond). The “Tweet” button is in case any people reading my blog enjoy it enough that they want to “tweet” it to the folks who are following them on Twitter. I’m glad you asked, thank you.

  1. Laurie,

    Clutter clutter… who’s got the clutter? Oy Vey! I think you are so correct, it is a wonder that the world doesn’t stop in its tracks with so much baggage, emotional, spiritual, material.
    I wonder what the attraction is to holding on to all that stuff?
    I am slowing unraveling my clutter…

    I am Love, Jeff

    • Jeff – You asked, “I wonder what the attraction is to holding on to all that stuff?” I think it has a lot to do with “The one with the most toys wins!” marketing that’s done on a grand scale — and not just here in the United States.. Unfortunately, many folks equate the acquisition of things with “success.” I really like Maya Angelou’s definition of success. She said:

      Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

  2. I have a love/hate relationship with my “stuff”. Yes I spend untold amounts of time trying to find things. And yes I do believe that it puts stress on me. I agree with: come in with nothing and will leave with nothing.

    I do love my “treasures”. So all I can say is, I’m trying to organize my things to be able to easily find what I need (especially since I need them for my business and yearly pleasure of theme parties). And definitely want to clear out some of the stuff I know I won’t use again. I’m happy to say I sold some wedding bells to a coworker on Monday who is getting married next year. Out of my house, into her joyful new wedding, so I didn’t need to throw them away wasting them!

    Just think China wouldn’t have the huge expansion in manufacturing if we didn’t buy all the crap we do! 🙂

    • Beth – “Stuff” has a great deal to do with what you do for a living. So for you, I think organization is vital — a place for everything, and everything in its place. And then like you said, when you know you’ll never use something again, sell or donate it so that you’re not collecting “clutter” and only have “stuff” that you’ll really use — “stuff” that’s vital to your business.

  3. Most of my stuff has been stored at a friend’s farm since I’ve moved in with Jonathan, Laurie. I miss a few things (books, art stuff) but for the most part, I am living just fine with fewer things. That causes me a little bit of a problem, though, because now I think I have to go do something about it! When I moved, I pitched SO MUCH CLUTTER, I was appalled. Now, I realize that I still have too much clutter (it is just out of sight).

    • Barbara – You bring up an excellent point! When we’ve got something (neatly stored in boxes, or not) and we realize that we have been living without it just fine, it’s time to sell or donate it. You said, “I was appalled” at how much clutter you pitched, and now you realize you can offload even more — it’s simply out of sight at this time. If it were me (and I realize that it’s not), I would go out to the farm with boxes and start uncluttering NOW (before you HAVE to), and consolidate the boxes that you leave there. That way you won’t have to move the stuff yet again when the time comes.

  4. My experience: cleaning the material clutter helps clean out the emotional clutter

    Recommend a well done, educational and entertaining 20 minute animated discussion at They spell out the total impact of our creating and buying and throwing out stuff. How it hurts the earth, individuals, and communities. Very eye opening!!!

    • MJo – I’m with you. When we clear material clutter, it’s a great launching point (trigger) for clearing mental/emotional clutter. In my manuscript I give a real live client example of this. The change in this woman’s home and internal landscape was amazing — and it all started with clearing material clutter. I’m so glad you stopped in. Thank you, too, for the link to The Story of Stuff.

    • Lisa – You crack me up! For those of you who may not know Lisa, she’s the founder of Island Relief — a wonderful organization. If some of the “stuff” you’re embracing includes books you’re no longer using, please contact Lisa through Island Relief and she will put those used books to excellent use!

      Lisa, I’ve been to your beautiful home on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. And the “stuff” that you have is for the comforts and enjoyment of folks like Len and I who rent your home for a bit of time in an island paradise.

  5. This is such a wonderful message. I am not a “stuff” person. And lately, upon arriving home from trips, feel a deep desire to keep sorting through the “stuff” that we do have, getting rid, getting rid. You know what the hardest things to get rid of are for me? You’re going to laugh. Words. Like letters, notes, stories. It’s easy to get rid of material objects but words are challenging. Have started tossing some of those lately, though.

    And now you are inspiring some more simplifying over the course of the weekend!

    • Kathy “getting rid, getting rid” — that’s music to my ears. You’re absolutely right — I am surprised that the hardest things for you to get rid of are words! As in brevity, or?…

      • It’s hard to get rid of old letters that friends wrote back in the 70’s or 80’s or 90’s. Or notes you penned to yourself. Or stories you wrote but never finished. It feels like the words are so precious, so awesome. It feels like throwing away children. Except…I keep looking at these ancient words and asking, “Do I REALLY need to keep you?” and am surprised how often the emotional answer comes up, “No, not really.” Learning to question more deeply and look for what is the real answer in this moment, not the answer grooved in the brain from years of use.

      • Kathy – Can you commit the energy (the spirit) of the letters to you heart? If yes, then I think you’re free to release them, and no longer store them. Here’s an idea though… Why don’t you burn them, and mix the ashes with potting soil or compost and grow something beautiful (flowers) or practical (vegetables) with those wonderful memories?

  6. As I look around my home, I have to wonder, “Where did all this stuff come from?”. I’ve always admired the Japanese culture with their “light living”, you know, roll up the bed and shove it in the closet. Or the Native Americans who could have the Tee-Pee rolled and strapped to a pony before breakfast. Or the Shakers, with there simple and beautifully functional furniture. Chairs in the way and you want to sweep the floor? Hang them on the wall. I have always liked the “Story of Stuff”. It drives home a major point, you will not only tie yourself down with so much stuff, but you will burden the Earth herself with and over-abundance of stuff that will end up where? The land fill. If you want to get rid of stuff and yet feel a bit guilty for throwing away a perfectly good coffee-pot or that end table that you keep moving, send it to Good-will. They have a use for stuff. Cool blog, really enjoyed it!

    • Sandi – I’m so glad you stopped by for a visit. Like you, I admire “light living.” In our home we don’t even have carpet (with three dogs it’s not practical) so that we can hose the floor down if necessary. Donating items to the Goodwill is a great idea. In my neck of the woods, my favorite place to donate items is “Home of the Sparrow” — it helps to support battered women and their children.

  7. Sorry Laurie, I am rather fond of by super king size bed, and my zero gravity recliner chair.
    I also like the tool set in the garage, which allow me to fix just about anything (wood and metal working gear, mechanical tools, chain saws, garden gear etc. Yes it is a bit of a mess, and I know where most of it is.
    And every now and then we leave it alone. In 4 weeks we’re going to spend 4 days rafting down the Clarence river, and spend one of them climbing Dillon Cone (2174m).
    Not much in the way of comforts on that trip.

    • Hello there, Ted! It’s not that I don’t have ANYthing … I just prefer less. Chances are if it needs dusting, ironing, or that type of thing, I don’t have it. Your up-and-coming trip rafting down the Clarence river sounds fantastic! I’m counting on you taking a camera.

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