Getting rid of “stuff” seems to be a hot topic right now. This could totally be biased, considering I follow many blogs that tout “minimalism” and “sustainability.” It also could be seasonal – considering spring started literally overnight last week and everyone has the spring cleaning bug. Regardless, I’ve seen a lot of talk about it, and I’m actively participating, so it’s been on my mind. David and I leave in two weeks. I technically leave in one week, as I’m dropping my car (the non-road trip car) at my parents’ in Maine loaded with all the things we’ll need when we settle down somewhere for longer than a few weeks. So this weekend is packed full of sorting, packing, unpacking, repacking, etc. etc. (pun intended). Sometimes I think I live to get rid of stuff. I find every excuse to do it: spring cleaning, buying too much new stuff, attending a lecture on climate change that scares the crap out of me, watching a movie about third world countries… really any event that makes me feel awful about my privileges or like I’m drowning in unused possessions. It always leaves me feeling renewed. This winter I undertook the most involved “simplification” of my life thus far – to the point that there’s barely anything left to get rid of that makes any reasonable sense. And now we have to fit it all in two cars… To the left is what our bedroom looked like this morning as we sorted everything into: (1) winter clothes, (2) farm clothes, (3) running clothes, (3) work/nice clothes, (4) frequently worn, (4) not so frequently worn. The first two categories are headed to Maine, the rest we’re taking with us – whatever doesn’t fit a category is headed to Salvation Army. And that’s just clothes; we’ve also sorted through books, dishes, memorabilia, and everything else we own. At least four times over the last few months we’ve done a full sweep of the apartment, throwing everything we’re ready to part with in a cardboard box to donate or listing it on Craiglist (um…anyone want an antique sewing machine?). All of this in preparation for today – the car stuffing day of truth. Each time we undertook a cleaning we found ourselves willing to part with more and more stuff. In January I wanted to keep that blue dress, for special occasion, you know? In February I decided it could go, I don’t attend a lot of those; but that really nice speaker system we never use? We might need that. Then in March: maybe a speaker system isn’t actually that useful on the road… Stuff is just stuff. Yet, for some reason, we emotionally attach ourselves to it. We avoid getting rid of things because so-and-so gave it to us, or it could have use some day, or we like to wear it maybesometimes, etc. etc. In my opinion, our emotional attachments to material objects could actually be considered emotional baggage. As a culture we’re drowning in the chaos of our material lives, in our anxiety about getting rid of anything we might possibly regret. For the record: I’ve never regretted getting rid of anything, no matter how worried I was before I pitched it. Usually, I just forget I ever owned it. Out of sight, out of mind – forever one less worry. Take a look around you – are you surrounded by things you never use? Really think about it. When was the last time you cracked open that book? Do you even remember what it was about? How often do you really use those cookie cutters? You have how many coffee mugs for two people!? Where did you even get that weird looking plant pot anyways? And those pants that are too big, too small, too short, or too hole-y? C’mon, you know the ones, the ones you haven’t worn in three years. Newsflash: you’ll probably never wear them again.
Get rid of it! All of it!
Note: Please sell or donate before throwing away. Unless it’s like underwear… or broken sneakers… or dish rags… throw that shit out (in the proper receptacle, of course). It’s rude to assume other people want that gross stuff. Every item we’ve gotten rid of has pushed us closer to our goal of independence on the road. Every item you do away with will give you that same sense of freedom – one step closer to a life without baggage.