Coming to terms with letting go of all of those… things

Posted on 26.10.2013


photo 1This is not a post about cameras as much as it is about all of the stuff that constitutes living your life, comfortably. I used to be a bit of a packrat, which I will lightly blame on growing up in constant financial crisis. I’ve worked hard to get out of that, and have stopped buying books and clothes I don’t need. I plan for trips well enough to pack as little as possible, and I tend to only hold onto things I intend to keep using, or will definitely need in the future,

My entire opinion of myself and what I keep around is starting to change. I’m getting slightly annoyed with how things stand, and I shouldn’t be annoyed about it really, since I planned for something completely different to happen.

Explanation: I planned to move back to the states, find a job, and start working. Operating under that plan, what I did was correct. But the outcome has been a very different one, as I’m currently sitting in England applying for a visa, waiting to begin my job in Japan. So what I did back in December/March was effectively a gigantic waste.

What I did back in December/March was pack and ship everything that was ‘mine’ back to America, where I planned to continue living and working. This equated to 15 large boxes of stuff, including a bike that I loved, a professional grade scanner, a large format camera and its tripod, cooking and baking supplies and tools, and far too many books. These are all things that would comfortably furnish my own studio apartment and be used OFTEN.

A friend of mine brought that huge-ass large format camera and tripod over to me when she came to visit a few years ago and it NEVER got used. That was a waste, even if it made for fun conversations about how it worked at parties. I’ve been shooting film ALL year while that excellent scanner has sat, unused, packed in a box. And I’ve effectively been living on 1/8 of my wardrobe since then. To add insult to injury, I’ve lost about 20 pounds, so NONE of the clothing sitting in boxes anywhere fits me, and just about all of the clothing I currently have with me (2 pairs of pants, 6 dresses, some t-shirts) is too big and needs to be replaced. Awesome.

So what was the point of keeping it all? What was the point of packing it up, labeling it and sending it overseas? Are the books being read by anyone? Is the bike being used? Are the clothes even being worn? This is the SECOND bike I’ve had to part with due to moving overseas and I have absolutely learned my lesson, starting immediately:

Keep none of it. Keep even less of it if you decide to cross oceans for work.

I’ve got 8 cameras sitting in boxes that aren’t being used. 20 pairs of shoes. SO many books, even though they are ones I would read again or lend to friends or students. I’m certainly not going to ask friends to mail me my books when I get to Japan, so why did I keep them? How about all of the DVDs I bought, or the CDs I haven’t even seen since I moved to Germany in 2009?

As mentioned, they would have all been used, had I gotten a job in the states. It’s no one’s fault that none of the 38  jobs I applied to never even bothered to get back to me (I kept a spreadsheet). The first job I applied to in Japan got back to me a few days later. There was clearly never another plan for me.

The only thing I want to do now is fly back to the states and have a huge fucking moving sale. Or work closely with someone to sell off my entire life on ebay and amazon. The BOOKS I have in storage alone would pay for my one-way ticket to Japan in December, no joke.

What all of this has taught me is that instead of holding onto things that I might use later, I should not keep anything if I don’t already have a plan and a destination set. Because my half-plan didn’t work and while plan b is excellent, it’s not helping the storage situation. What I’ve also learned from the first move is that everything I love and need, I just buy again, the same way I keep buying black synthetic trouser pants for work. There are some things that you just never part with, even if it means buying the same thing 6 times over the course of 10 years. There’s always another black pencil skirt or trench coat to buy just around the corner.

This all feels like a huge, ridiculous metaphor for life: as long as you keep moving, you need to keep your hands free. There’s no way to successfully move forward if you’re carrying it all with you.

Posted in: life, travel