The things we carry

There’s something wonderfully risky and pure and exhilarating about setting off on a journey with nothing but a suitcase to your name. Even in a world of superconnected and superaccessible everything, as we carry the contents of our lives around in tiny phones in our pockets and rarely face the risk of being truly alone, the act of packing a bag with a few chosen things and leaving the rest behind feels like a kind of freedom.

When I was still living in Kansas City this summer, before the current endeavor was even a seed of an idea in my brain, I had a restlessness for something I couldn’t pin down. All I knew was that both my life and my apartment felt like they had grown heavy around me, with layers of things that were no longer mine, but that I kept carrying around like a second skin because they were so familiar.

Something interesting happens when you have to look at every single item you own and ask, "Am I going to need this in the next year? Will I want it in the next year?" In the weeks leading up to the moment I got on a plane, I ended up getting rid of about 13 garbage bags full of stuff. I sold a few non-essential pieces of furniture, and moved most everything else I own into a storage unit. Just a small pile remained, my possessions for the next 12 months: mostly clothes, shoes, necessary files and a bin of office items, my laptop and camera, and a handful of other things. A crate of my dearest books. And a cigar box full of letters and notes from family and friends. Everything else felt easy to leave behind — I know that I'll be able to find or borrow or figure out what I need along the way.

And I feel lighter, like this. Not only in terms of possessions, but there is a new space in my head and heart for things that weren't there before: ideas, relationships, input, connections. I am out of my element, but I think that's what needed to happen. Though the process can be uncomfortable, the choice to get rid of what's no longer useful or beautiful makes a way for new questions, and new answers.

It’s a good thing, to let go of what is no longer ours. To clear out old rooms and carry with us only what’s truly important, in order to make space for new things that are yet to come. 

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