I will never forget foraging through the woods on our honeymoon, looking for our lost hotel in the Italian countryside, with hundreds of pounds of luggage, knocking us this way and that. I swore, in that moment, I would never over pack again! It only took me 12 years to keep that promise!
As we were preparing for this journey with three children, we came to a crossroads. We really wanted the freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted and luggage that needed to be hauled was not part of our vision.
Then the question was, how do you go from 2500 square feet of stuff to 5 carry on bags? We virtually pared our life down to a sliver of what we once owned in 2 months. The hardest part was that we knew we wanted to do many of the things we enjoyed while on the road and some of those things required special “stuff.” What about ski gear, hiking boots, and biking? What do we do when we arrive in these beautiful landscapes and don’t have what we need to enjoy the outdoors?
After many long conversations we came to the conclusion that there is a cost to holding on to things we MAY need for every possible activity we MAY want to partake in on any given day, whether we travel or stay put. We decided that we would borrow or buy anything we needed to enjoy whatever came about wherever we happened to be.
That freed us from storing and shipping and packing for every contingency. We have five carry-on bags and five small day packs and that limits us from accumulating any stuff. It also liberates us and enables us to pack up and move on whenever we please. We just left Southern Italy after three months and those three months included Christmas and skiing.
Typically Christmas means adding a lot of stuff to the already stuffed storage. This year, the kids knew that everything they received was to be enjoyed while we were in that specific location. A magic thing happened. They took better care of their “toys” because there were fewer and they anticipated passing them on.
The night before we left the Basilicata region, we went to the town square and they gave away their scooters they had lovingly washed and shined, sleds and dolls, play dough and puzzles. They had so much fun deciding who the lucky recipients would be and all those conversations we had endured about the importance of giving back, just clicked for them with no lecture.
We have a completely different relationship to things. It is more of a fluid perspective versus a “keep it for a rainy day” view. We have borrowed ballet shoes, ski gear, bicycles, blenders and soccer balls. We have borrowed binoculars, umbrellas frying pans and spices.
We have given as much as we have received and we feel much lighter as a result. The things are temporary and there will always be more or less depending on where we are in our life. For now, the freedom is priceless and has changed us from “holding on” to “moving through” and it is a lesson that applies to not only stuff but to everything we once held on to for too long.