I just returned from a 3 week long road trip from Colorado to Massachusetts to Florida and back to Colorado. Before I left, I set up all my bills to be paid automatically, I turned off and unplugged everything in my house, and asked a friend to stop by a few times to water the plants. I packed a suitcase with some clothes, threw some snacks in a bag, grabbed my MacBook, loaded some music on my iPhone, and away I went in the Subaru. And after 21 days and 5,640 miles, do you know what I missed back at my house?
I didn’t miss my books, my couch, my television. I didn’t miss my expensive toaster/convection oven, my stainless steel kitchen backsplash, my walk-in closet full of clothes I barely ever wear. And I didn’t miss my super-cool aluminum barstools from Crate & Barrel, my stereo, or the rest of the music I didn’t bring with me. In fact, I discovered that for 21 days I was perfectly happy without any of it at all. My life wasn’t any worse for not having these things, and in fact it simplified what I could do with my spare time between familial events – I could nap, read one of 2 books I got for Christmas, or do some work on the computer.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like my stuff that I listed above. It’s pretty much all that is left after the divorce, the purge, and the move to Colorado. And until I live in a tent or an RV full-time (probably not), these things are staying in my house. But what my 3 week “home-hiatus” reminded me of is that the stuff isn’t what’s important, and sometimes you need that reminder to keep the extras at bay.
If you don’t believe me, then the next time you go on vacation only bring the minimal amount of items you need for the time you are away. About 1/2 way through your holiday, spend some time mentally walking around your house looking at what you own and are doing just fine without. I guarantee that we all have extra stuff taking up space in our homes and our psyches that we don’t need anymore, because I know I still had a few things I am getting rid of this week. It’s amazing how all that stuff gets accumulated and then somehow becomes necessary – but it’s nothing a little time away won’t cure.