As we prepare to leave Europe this Spring, after nearly two years meandering this spectacular continent, we find ourselves in familiar territory, except somehow this time it is different. We are heading to new landscapes but we can not take all the treasures we have accumulated along the way. Somehow having less makes it harder to decide what to keep.
When we decided to go on this journey with one carry-on bag each, we experienced a cathartic purging. We were living in 2,500 square feet of closets and organized labeled bins and it was rewarding to skim and purge the “junk” off the top. The task is more difficult now, in a way, because each treasure or gift we have received since landing in Europe feels even more special because there is less “competition of stuff” crowding its grandeur.
In years past, I would spend January repacking all of my treasured, beautiful holiday decorations with care. This past week, as I was taking down the ornaments the kids made in their Italian classrooms, I couldn’t bring myself to purge them. I thought about mailing them to my parents house for safe keeping but then we would just be accumulating stuff somewhere else. That may feel easy short term but I know those boxes will catch up with us sooner or later.
The task at hand was not to make more room but to think of new ways to “carry” things with us into unknown landscapes. Perhaps we can’t pack these treasures but what can we do?
As we stopped and looked at the treasures, creative solutions surfaced. We photographed and made videos of the kids talking about different objects and the stories behind them. Some items were re-purposed as book covers or backpack charms while others were recycled. The result was that we preserved the memory without accumulating anything much in the material camp.
So many people talk of simplicity and minimalism but I think it is important to ask ourselves why?
- To have more appreciation and respect for what objects we deem worthy of keeping.
- To have the freedom to move about with ease.
- To have the space cleared for inspiration.
Maybe it is more about what we gain and less about giving things up. Maybe it is not purging at all but rather selectively preserving what matters most …