It dawned on me this week, as we were housebound on laundry day, that we have been living out of five carry-on bags (one for each of us) for over a year. Yes, it means we can’t leave the house on laundry day because we don’t have any “extra” clothes but it also means we have been very deliberate about what we actually need to move through multiple countries and seasons.
Our “stuff” now takes its orders from us and when it no longer serves us, we get rid of it or replace it. There was a time we felt burdened by belongings and we spent countless hours maintaining and storing and cleaning our “stuff.”
Our situation is extreme and we have an actual bag everything has to fit in. It does simplify things because of the limited amount one can carry in a “carry-on” but it also makes purchasing a more deliberate act. When the kids grow out of something, whatever replaces it has to work in all seasons and go with the rotation we have set up for their limited wardrobe. It can be just as paralyzing to make a decision when you can only buy one pair of pants, as it is when you have a closet full.
The key for us has been to change our relationship to stuff in a very dramatic way. I am not sure I would have been able to do it at home given all the closets that could hide my “saving for a rainy or skinny day” boxes.
We have a more fluid relationship to things now than we ever did at home. They flow in and out of our experience as we need them. Some “things” we have had since the day we set off and some “things” lasted a week. What we now know is that every “thing” we own can be replaced because the “things” we feel we can’t live without are alive within us and they can’t be lost.