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Do We Really Need It All?

I stood this morning and looked around my bedroom at all the stuff I don’t actually need. (And it’s probably quite a lot).

Walking to my lounge, I then found myself looking at more stuff I didn’t need.

Entering the kitchen I glanced across at my collection of shiny silver kitchen utensils and noticed that I hadn’t used some of them for quite some time.

And I found myself asking, “Do I really need it all?”.

Having just returned from an Arctic Survival Challenge in Sweden with Intrepid Expeditions, I find myself reflecting.

I spent the first part of the week with 13 other participants, in a beautifully rustic log cabin.

For those that know me, you know that I will have taken great delight in the fact that there was no electricity, candles providing the only light.

To wash, we had to melt snow over the fire which I loved.

We were very fortunate to experience some wonderful activities during the first few days: snowmobiling in deep powder, cross country skiing, being led by huskies across a frozen lake, and ice fishing to name just a few.

All these were amazing experiences that I’d do again at the drop of a hat. But I’d also repeat the final part of the week, which involved survival.

The survival element of the course took place over the final 3 days. Three days, sleeping outside in minus temperatures, living on rations.

Days were spent chopping wood to keep the fire going, essential for both warmth and water.

Pans were filled with snow to melt but had to be refilled again and again as the snow melted to provide just a small amount of hydration.

Teamwork was not only needed but essential to providing not only shelter but nourishment. We survived with a kettle and a large pan between 14 of us.

We didn’t have a whole rack of shiny kitchen utensils, and I didn’t miss my lemon zester, my garlic press or my ice-cream scoop. My spork stirred and served and my mug often doubled as a bowl.

Often, in life we work hard, to get more money, to buy more things.

We fill our homes with the newest, biggest, shiniest things because other people are doing the same.

We buy the latest iPhones and computers, bigger TV and better cars.

We keep working to keep buying.

We can be led to believe that our life is defined by what we have, instead of who we are.

We find ourselves lost, surrounded by all that we think we should have, instead of what we really need.

Living with all we really need, has been a wonderful reminder that we don’t need so many things. As long as we have food, water, shelter and people then that’s enough.

It’s made me realise that we actually stand a greater chance of not only surviving but thriving with a lot less. Not being surrounded by so much, allows us to see so much more. And it’s liberating.

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