Years of travelling have changed my relationship with the things I own. My predilection for fancy mugs, arty trinkets, and chunky boots has stayed the same, but I’ve started to notice the importance of the settings in which the things are used.
The fanciest of mugs turns into just another piece of junk if I drag it around moving from one place to another and turns into a nuisance when I have to wrap it carefully every time I pack a suitcase so that it doesn’t get cracked or chipped. A mug needs a spot on a shelf to live on where it returns after being washed, where I can find it even in the dark if I come back late and feel like having a tea but not like turning the lights on.
Arty bric-à-brac brings me joy when in passing I casually spot it on the shelves of my bookcase, against the background of the book spines whose colours briefly brighten up in the mellow light of the setting sun.
The boots need somewhere where I could wear them and a place to rest and not get dusty while I’m not wearing them, and a bit of shoe polish every now and then. They also need my care, because they won’t polish themselves.
I’ve realised that things don’t make me happy. Happiness is having a place to come back to late and not having to turn the light on to get the mug out of the cupboard; the mug doesn’t need to be fancy.
Happiness is having a window that gives on to a sunset and having the time to stop and marvel at the warmth of colour it lends to everyday objects.
Happiness is feeling comfortable in my shoes and walking down the street without needing to wear a mental armour that would guard me against unkind looks and rude remarks.
Happiness has little to do with belongings; it has everything to do with having a place to belong.