Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fit Packing

Today I'm leaving Durham, North Carolina for day one of my 2009 cross country road trip. And as usual, I'm taking way too much stuff with me.

I'd like to say that its because this trip is open-ended with no set end date or that I'm going to interview for jobs along the way that causes me to bring too much stuff. I've got plenty of camping gear weighing me down, but I've also got dress shirts and a clothes iron. Even a suit. But the truth is it's my “be prepared” personality and inexperience in packing that is weighing me down.

My first challenge is to temper my desire to have every single thing I might need on my trip. I'm one of those people that thinks if I might need it, I better take it. Most of us are reminded of this over-packing problem when we're packing the car to return home from a beach trip. Suddenly the excitement of going somewhere and doing things is missing and you know for sure that half the stuff you're now lugging back into the car wasn't touched. Now imagine that nagging feeling on a daily basis when you're car camping across the country. Every time you go in and out of the car, you get reminded of all those extra items.

This is only my second car camping trip and I'm learning fast. Well, I'm learning, anyway. In Maryland where most of my life is in storage, I learned to accept that most of my property couldn't and shouldn't go with me. All my SCUBA toys, most of my books, including my beloved cookbooked stayed behind. I did tests to pack the car and things looked great when I had two passenger seats free for the single, attractive, female Australian hikers I might encounter. Then I moved to Durham for the weekend and bought groceries. That same feeling that makes you want to bring ten shirts for a three day weekend helps you buy food like you're going on an expedition up the Amazon instead of driving down I-95 passing SuperTarget every 5 exits. So before even leaving the driveway, my journey began: It's time to start questioning the baggage I have in my life and leaving it behind.

In the next hour I filled a good size box with stuff I won't need and shipped it to storage. Gone when the wool sweater that kept me warm on 25' nights last fall won't be needed in the summer and the blue jeans that won't help me in the dessert. Over the next few weeks I'll downsize physically and mentally. Every time I ship more home, I'll gain more comfort in my car. And each week I do without things in storage, I'll free myself to live a new and better life in the future.


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