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I’ve found both moving and hunger put different perspectives on life. Since March, I have been boxing my possessions to put in storage and reducing the amount of “stuff” in my life. Ultimately it’s a big undertaking and somewhat exhausting. Most often I’m frustrated at myself. I’m not sure how or when I needed eight pairs of black dress pants, but there they were, displayed neatly on trouser hangers with their straight, ironed lines defying me to bid them adieu. I’m surprised at how easily I was able to put them into the “Goodwill” box without a second thought. While I need to figure out exactly why I accumulated so much, it does feel good that I can make the choice to dispose of items at will and drive a carload to the donation center.  

This reminds me of an experiment – or lifestyle choice – a former work associate discussed with our team a few years ago. There was a challenge circulating to reduce your life to 100 items. The premise was to discover what were the 100 essential items you needed to exist. Could you do it? Articles were written and talk shows discussed the topic. Our team spent time debating what 100 items we would choose. Of course, none of us wanted exactly the same things, but there were some basics we thought were necessary. What was mind-boggling, though, was how little 100 items actually includes if you were to lay the items side by side and count each individually.

Toothbrush = 1
Toothpaste = 1
Comb = 1
Pair of shoes = 2
Jeans = 1
Shirt =1
Underwear = 1
Bra = 1
Jacket = 1, etc., and so on.

These items already total 10 and don’t even include a car (1), or apartment/house (1), or mattress (1), or pillow (1) or sheets (3 – fitted, loose and pillow case cover) or a plate (1) or cup (1). And what if you thought about all the items you have in your kitchen or house or car? And what about the iPod, iPad, iPhone*, charger, laptop, Xbox, and all the other electronics we use daily? Whew. There are probably tens of thousands of items. So how do you decide what is most important?

U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Jon Quinlan

U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Jon Quinlan

I never embraced the 100-item challenge, but while I clean out my closets and cupboards I’ve diminished my belongings by half. As I watch the people of Moore, Okla., begin their recovery process after the devastating EF5 tornado ripped through their community, I am acutely aware how those residents did not have a choice in reducing their items to 100 or even 1,000. They stand in front of their demolished homes with contents strewn across the countryside and many have to start over from nothing by retrieving anything salvageable. Sometimes all that remains fits into a single laundry basket.

Please donate in any way you can – through donations to the Red Cross, to local relief efforts or even by prayer. And as you take a moment today to look at your surroundings, at all the items that may well total over 100 in just a single room, what can you live without?

* This is not an advertisement for Apple.

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