Stuff, stuff and more stuff

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Do we have too much stuff - the gift of travel

In an ode to George Carlin, my mother reminds me that I have stuff everywhere. Strange, considering I’ve been doing my best to become much more of a minimalist than I was growing up. Then, there was stuff everywhere – but it was mostly contained to my room. Bottles of island sand, Disney figurines, keepsakes and photos as far as the eye could see. Today, there are still photos, but the rest is minimal. It’s not the stuff in the place I’m in that’s the thing, it’s the stuff strewn in various locations that’s the issue – and I have far less stuff than many! Anyone else feel this way?

“Life is so much brighter when we focus on what truly matters” – anonymous

When we moved from Long Beach, we culled a lot. The rest made its way to a storage facility to be revisited in the future. Of course, there are still those few photo albums left at my parents to deal with, too. And then there’s the stuff you bring on a trip; the one rolling duffel we bring on an impending journey – and of course, on the trip within the trip, we have an even smaller version of the same stuff with the rest left at our accommodation. I feel like the muse of George Carlin’s rant! Travel – right? Half of it is channeling my grandfather who reminded us that when traveling, remove half of the clothes and STUFF and add twice the money!

“Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff” – Steve Jobs

A friend who moved to Asia more than a decade ago had a similar issue. Most of her life was in storage in New York when she left and it remained there until after about eight years when she went through it all, popped the rest in a container on a freighter and after months at sea it arrived in Asia. She too had some childhood things left at her family home and had now accumulated a decade’s worth of her own things (even before she shared a space with her husband and family). And when she traveled, she took only some of all that stuff. Seriously…..comedy is life!

“A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff” – George Carlin

Perhaps that’s one of the burdens of a traveler. At one point or another, we are not only leaving pieces of ourselves wherever we roam, but always accruing some things and shedding others along the way. Years ago I picked up trinkets and clothes when I traveled. Today, unless something really calls to me, I do my best to find a magnet, send postcards, take photographs and etch moments into memory in lieu of purchasing t-shirts and knick knacks. We bring clothes that might not make it back (or we donate) with us and often books to share with others along the way. We limit what we take leaving room for other finds and always have a smaller portable daypack or tote bag that can double as luggage if we need something smaller for a portion of the journey. No matter how hard we try, we’re always leaving ‘stuff’ across the globe.

“Collect moments, not things” – anonymous

Known for telling it like it is, George Carlin certainly had it right! He’d laugh knowing that we wander into travel stores to window shop water bottles, backpacks and safari-worthy pants. Of course, we KNOW that it’s the experience that’s the most important (but the right travel gear doesn’t hurt, right?). I’ve realized that my stuff is not ‘steal-worthy’ to most. Mine is the ‘stuff’ that reminds me of a time, place, moment, experience or person. Whether you’re living amongst clutter, downsizing as a means to better mental health or wander with all of your worldly belongings tucked in your pockets – stuff is definitely ‘a thing’! For the most part, I’m going to keep doing my best to lessen the ‘stuff’ and concentrate on the moments. Perhaps more in the future it will be pieces of myself I leave all over the world and experiences collected in mind and heart that are my ‘must haves’ when I travel.

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