“Untitled #4” by Scott Avett and the Avett Brothers: Meditation and Reading

September 29, 2020  • Hannah Wardell-Metcalf

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Last weekend, I moved to a new apartment. There is nothing like carrying all of your belongings out of one house and into another to make you question if you really need so much stuff. During one of my drives to the new address, this song from the North Carolina band The Avett Brother’s newest album came on. The chorus rings “When I let what makes me happy go/And I finally learn what I need to know/I am happier with nothing” and I didn’t know if I agreed. I like to consider my personal pursuit of happiness more Aristotelian–tied to enrichment and achievement–than materialistic, but the 10 boxes of books and copious bags of clothes in the back of my car told a different story. I own a lot of clothes and books because I believe they make me happy and if I’m being honest, I tie some sense of self to the things I own. 

As I sit in the midst of my still-to-be-unpacked boxes, I can’t get the Avett Brothers out of my head… would I be happier with nothing or maybe just less?

How do you pursue happiness? Are there things that bring you happiness or things that feel like they are inhibiting your happiness? As you go about your day, think about the objects you interact with through the lens of “does this make me happy in the way I want to be?”

Hannah Wardell, Washington, DC

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