For a traveling Physical Therapist supposedly living some sort of minimalist lifestyle, I have a ton of stuff.
When Kate and I moved into a camper this summer, we brought a concise amount of stuff with us from our seasonal life out in Colorado. We typically leave our ski and winter gear in a small storage area, this year we left some additional stuff knowing we’d be living in the small confines of a camper. Living in a camper went awesome. Having just a couple suitcases worth of clothes and very little other belongings was a great way to simplify and organize life.
Kate and I had a ton of stuff stored at her Mom’s house up in Maine – and we needed to get the majority of it out. We ended up leaving a few canisters of clothes and other things at her Mom’s house, but were able to regain ownership of a lot of stuff that we never actually missed. Originally, we thought we’d rent a Uhaul to make the trip, but after looking at prices, we reconsidered and bought a new trailer for just a few hundred dollars more than the price of renting one for the week. We filled the brand new 4′ x 6′ trailer to the brim with pictures and knick-knacks from childhood, college, and our wedding. An entire pick-up truck worth of stuff including several boxes of text books from PT school found its way to Goodwill. I would love to have the luxury of time and space to bring the books with us and try to sell them on Ebay for some easy cash, but we only had a few days to get on the road headed west and no space at all for the books to tag along – they had to go. Following 5 months in a camper, we were of the minimalist mindset and did a good job of tossing away A LOT of stuff. Regardless of our success in eliminating as much as we did, we headed to Colorado with our SUV and trailer both full to the brim.
Several weeks, and a couple trips to the storage area later, we have all of our stuff safely inside our hospital-owned condo in Colorado. Life appears mostly normal in our condo except for a persistent stack of plastic bins hanging out. I move multiple times per year, what on Earth do I do with old photo albums, framed diplomas, and my most favorite DVDs and books!? These things have no place in my current life, but I think I would really miss them some day if I were to throw them out. On the other hand, what if a camper becomes a more regular part of my life, or if we move into a small home without much room for storage – then these things that I like having, but rarely miss, will certainly have no place in my life. The idea of a perpetual storage area seems like such a waste.
So, for now, we have one car-load of stuff that travels with us – this is the stuff we actually “need” in life. We have a 4′ x 6′ trailer and a 5′ x 5′ storage area of other stuff. Admittedly, a good amount of the storage area is dedicated to ski equipment and other forms of winter recreation, but the volume of stuff remains overwhelming. So, what am I to do? I have much more stuff than I truly need, but most of the things that don’t have a utilitarian purpose in my life have some high sentimental value. In talking with a few friends, it seems most people have a couple boxes of similar stuff despite efforts to whittle it down. For now, I suppose I’ll keep going through the photo albums and memory boxes to try and identify the difference between important memories and junk that holds little value. It seems that the only time I see this stuff is when I’m trying to pare-down. So, maybe the process of elimination is exactly what puts the objects with out any real purpose to use. For now, the process of going through and reducing the clutter is exactly what allows me to crack the binding on these old albums and enjoy them.
I do look forward to sorting through old photo albums and newspaper clippings that I have long forgotten – reliving memories that may be lost without these little reminders tucked away in a closet or storage area. Should be a fun winter exploring all the knick-knacks, but let’s hope that there’s a lot I can part way with, because it’s not all going to fit in the 5′ by 5′ storage area at the end of this winter.