I first lived aboard a little 25 foot sailboat back when I was in my late teens and early twenties.  Living on a small boat back then was easy as I did not have much stuff.  As kids we are used to leaving stuff behind. First we leave that special stuffed toy, and then it is Leggos and so on. By the time we have finished school we have left a lot stuff behind, it was part of life. After school I did not have time to collect a bunch of stuff and then there was the fact that I could leave what stuff I did collect at Mom and Dad’s for free. When I moved off the boat and back onto land in my early thirties I suddenly had room for stuff. Lots of stuff.  

                So for the next thirty years I collected stuff. Every now and then I would thin out a bit when I moved but somehow what got thinned out was quickly replaced with more stuff. Once the garage filled up I just built a shed out back for even move stuff. Now I will admit some of the stuff I collected was for the boat I did not own at the time but knew I would own someday. I think I am not alone in this collection phase of life, I know some who are worse than I am for sure. We are told our whole lives we need to have this or that. We want to have all that stuff the other guy has and of course the other guy wants to have what we have.  We also tend to take comfort in our stuff, having stuff makes us feel good. Then as we get older we realize all that stuff is just a pain in the ass and it really does not make us happy. Then what?

                If you are like me you still do not want get rid of everything just like that. I mean, I put a lot of effort into getting all the stuff I no longer want. Maybe if you are rich it is easy but I worked hard for what I collected whether it need it or not! So for me at least it is not easy letting go of stuff. But as I am now living in a much smaller space and no longer have a house with a garage and shed, I have to pay to keep stuff I do not need or use in storage. Slowly I am working on thinning down to what can be kept in a small cargo trailer. Mainly I am keeping my tools and such, things that I really need and use. Things that in the end will help my escape not hinder it.

                Slowly I am letting go and selling things off. It is not always easy but there is that feeling of relief as I have less and less to deal with. It is sort of like losing weight, slowly I begin to feel better and less weighed down. Some things I do not want to part with, things meant to go to the kids as they get older. These things I can leave at my mother house as she has some free space. She too has been thinning out as she gets older.

                I think we hit a point in life when we truly begin to understand that all the stuff we have collected over the years really is like an albatross, holding us back. Some seem to cling ever tighter while others learn to let go. Living on a boat will sort of force you to let go which really is a good thing. As it has been said “less is more” and I think there is a lot of truth to that. That really is part of the Zen in living aboard a boat, downsizing to gain more. A bit of an oxymoron I admit but for anyone who lives on a boat I think you understand and for those wanting to live on a boat you will soon understand. Less truly is more.

By Capt. Wayne Canning


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