I don’t remember exactly when the nomadic lifestyle engulfed me but it goes back even before I had the chance to make that my own choice. Since that time, I’ve moved countless numbers of times, staying the longest stint of 3 years in one physical location before moving into a van and exploring an ambition to travel and climb fulltime. While having a home base has been a dream for me, I can’t seem to settle for too long without uprooting myself. Therefore, I am, once again, embracing the opportunity rather than fighting it. And that means it’s another round of materialistic purging.
One thing to know about a nomad is that they can’t afford to have many possessions. Material goods take up space, get in the way and become a burden to deal with (at some point). There was a time in my life when I thought it would be great to have a house, a yard…some stability, but, in the end, life proved that this was not going to be the path for me. Like my first mattress purchase where I thought ‘surely this is a statement that I will settle down and create a more permanent place for myself (afterall, mattresses are not easy to move around, right?)’, I invested in some material things like a good sofa set (now owned by my dear friend, Lennart) and dressers and other sensible household things. But, as I have learned over time, these things don’t mean anything and are hardly symbols of stability. A sofa is a sofa is a sofa. To have meaning, one only has to believe it has it and I would rather invest my beliefs elsewhere than hold onto and believe in something as silly as a couch.
Now, that’s not to undermine how much I have enjoyed the things I’ve owned. Since I find myself purging items with some regularity, you have to know that the things I acquire and keep and store and revisit time and again have some sort of meaning attached to it. This has probably been the most profound and difficult lesson for me to overcome. I mean, the sofa may have been nice, and I may have really liked it and found it hard to part with, but how much more difficult is it to deal with articles of even deeper meaning: photographs, gifts, memorabilia, etc?
At first, I couldn’t even think to discard that type of thing. But, really, how different is a picture, a token, an award, a certificate, a drawing, a note, a card, etc. from the sofa? Does it mean anything to be sitting in storage for years? And who will value these things other than myself? Be honest, most of us get bored if inundated with stories and pictures of something that has no direct meaning to us.
Therefore, over the years, I have made difficult decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of. Sometimes I felt I was losing a piece of history of myself, but then I would remind myself that there isn’t anyone else out there who would care more about whatever it was than I would. And, when I die, these things will matter least. If anyone cared at that point, they would only move one thing from the back of my closet or deep in storage to another place where it would only take up space. So really, I spare myself and someone else this unfortunate hassle of having to deal with a legacy of boxes.
While it can feel heavy or uncertain when undertaking a sentimental purge, the outcome is actually freeing. Not only is my load lighter, but I’m no longer hanging onto physical things from the past. I live more and more in the present and accept that this is really all there is that matters. I still like and appreciate things and maybe one day I’ll settle down or at least stay in one location longer than a few weeks or months. Who knows, maybe in the end I’ll be a pack rat!