One of the questions that many people ask us is, “what about your stuff?” It is a curiosity for some and a critical question for others. When we tell them that we are letting it go, we often get a look of uncertainty. I imagine that their uncertainty comes mainly from two perspectives: 1) they are uncertain that we made a wise choice, and 2) they are uncertain of what that really means. When we say we are letting it go, we mean that we either sold, gave away, donated or sadly trashed the large majority of the things that we owned.
For those of you thinking we are crazy 🙂 I will assure you that we kept a few things.
- Our Subaru – originally I had planned to sell that car in Houston or Austin, but Amy convinced me to keep it. Amy’s parents generously offered to keep it and manage it for us while we are gone.
- Photos, valuable books, our camping gear, small family heirlooms and any clothes that weren’t at the end of their useful life already – these items went mainly into Amy’s sister’s basement in a stack about 6’x6’x6′.
- A few kitchen necessities – things like a few knives, a pot and pan, and a couple other small implements. These also went into the same stack in our sister’s basement.
- The kids furniture – my mother just bought a new house and has put this into a kids room there. Assuming we don’t end up living in a yurt when we come back we will likely retrieve them.
This is also probably the part that is the hardest for many to come to terms with. Often the next question is, “Won’t you need all that other stuff when you get back?” This is a tough one for sure…the simple answer is maybe. Do I really need a garlic press, three types of blenders, two types of mixers or a myriad of ultra specialized things? Perhaps we will come back and repurchase all that and more, but I think the reality might be somewhere in between. Our life was a constant press to acquire more and more things that took up more and more space. And the more space we had, the more time it was taking to not only manage the space (mow, trim, garden, paint, repair, remodel, clean, etc.), but also to pay for it all (more time at work). It is somewhat ironic that we then buy more stuff in an effort to make the added tasks easier and less time consuming. In fact, Amy and I were considering buying a bigger house this spring when we realized we were simply perpetuating a vicious cycle. Worse, we felt like we may have been inadvertently teaching our kids to place too much value on the material things in our lives.
Now I am not saying that getting rid of everything is the only solution to this problem, nor does one need to travel the world for a year. For us however, it felt like a way to break the cycle and truly take a new approach in our lives. As Amy likes to put it, “we are hitting the reset button.” Step one, remove the material constraints that were inhibiting us from taking this leap. Step two, take advantage of the time and the newly freed resources to explore more of what is out there. At minimum we have a fairly unique experience to look back on and hopefully find new opportunities with our changed perspective. As an added bonus (except when the four of us are all piled into one bed) we get to spend some serious quality time together.
As we travelled from the Front Range, we slowly discarded a few more items. Some old clothes we had brought for camping, a box of toys and kids books given to a nephew, an old tent on its last leg, and some car ride friendly kids activities. Our original plan had us getting down to two large backpacks for Amy and I, two small packs for the kids and two small carry-on packs for Amy and I. For the kids education and support we chose to add a bag late in the game and are now carrying a small duffel (carry-on size) filled with school workbooks and some school supplies. I am still hopeful we can shed a few more items in the future to lighten our load, for as of now we are packed to the brim. Sherry asked us if we would like her selfie stick to take with us as we left Tucson…I told her no, “it would mean getting rid of underwear at this point.”
When we were in Phoenix I made one more leap in letting it go: I buzzed my hair for the first time. I had been thinning for years and much like the other things in my life I couldn’t let it go. But I felt like it was time, this shaving would be a symbol for me of the transformation we were about to undergo. It is taking some getting used to, but I think it was the right decision. See for yourself: