I’ve set the timer for fifteen minutes. This is my chance to get it all out, just for today, just for right now.
My topic for today is: You Can’t Take it With You.
I always think of this phrase in conjunction with death. All those objects we prize so much cannot cross over the barrier with us, right? But it occurs to me that this would make a handy motto for long-term travel as well. It’s something I would imagine saying to myself repeatedly as I consider what to keep and pack and what doesn’t make the cut.
The stereo speakers? You can’t take that. The TV? No. The super squishy awesome bed? No, but maybe one of those camping pads, I don’t know. No, they’re too big. Maybe just a yoga mat.
Living day to day with a fantasy about long-form travel, I will consider this to be my new mantra. Can I take it with me? No? Then why have it now?
Of course this could lead to all kinds of small-object obsessions. Tiny earrings and little watercolor sets. A journal that fits in the palm of my hand. But then I must take into consideration the other new mantra: Can I afford that AND go on a long trip? No? Is it really necessary? Maybe.
So if you gather all those items that you cannot take with you, what are they? How many are they? What do you do with them while you’re gone? Do you really need to keep it?
Years and years ago I did something like this. I packed up a backpack and a small box of kitchen stuff and art supplies and climbed into a van for three years. I got rid of a lot of things before I left and packed up the rest. All those things I couldn’t part with. All the precious bits. I loaded them into boxes, sealed them and put them in the car I was leaving behind, parked in a friend’s backyard.
Somewhere along the line I forgot what was in those boxes. How could these items have been so important if I honestly couldn’t remember what they were? When I got back I donated them to charity.I also got rid of the car. In all the years since, I’ve only regretted losing the journals I threw out in that process. I moved to Oregon with a guitar, a backpack and a small box of miscellany.
Now I’ve got a house and a houseful of stuff ready to be sorted through over and over again until it all gets pared down. This time I’ll keep the journals. And the photos. What else? I honestly can’t think of anything. I’m even ready to let the guitar go
“Noooo!” I hear you wailing. “Not the guitar!”
Yes, I’ve gotta be brutal to let go. The guitar AND the piano are going. Let’s be honest, I don’t really play them much anymore. But maybe a piccolo? They’re so tiny!
Whew fifteen minutes is a really long time when I have such a scanty topic. No need to puff it out, add more crap to the crap, so to speak. It’s best to stop now.