Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LESSON NOS. 1 & 2: TRAVEL LIGHT, OR, MINIMALISM RULES!

Today I begrudgingly spent the most depressing $500 of my entire life.

I gave my money (or perhaps more accurately, threw it away) to the fine folks at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? so that they could haul away all of the physical baggage that I've spent the last three and a half years hanging onto. Now there's a Public Storage in Brooklyn that will be $137 a month poorer.

But don't cry for them. They had a very good run.

Since I moved to Buenos Aires in September of 2006, I've been paying $137 a month to store a bunch of things I've spent 20 years accumulating. Today it all officially became "junk:" my furniture; framed posters; four wardrobe boxes of clothing; books; knick knacks; outdated electronics (including a virtually fossilized Palm Pilot!); every clip from my journalism career, dating back to high school (these were hardest to part with, but the thought of going through all of those stacks made my knees buckle), videos (speaking of fossilized) and so many things I'd completely forgotten I even had!

Yes, I did walk away with a small but valuable bounty: some cool winter clothes, a few summer items, two designer suits, a pair of shoes, three books and photos from seemingly every vacation, every long weekend, I've taken since 1991 and every party I've thrown since then, too. These things were worth hanging onto. No regrets there.

And truthfully speaking, I had no idea how things would turn out when I first rented the storage space. For all I knew, I would be back in New York after one year, and I'd resume my life here and continue accumulating "junk." Perhaps I had to reach the place where I arrived today to finally understand the ultimate value of possessions. Without this lesson, maybe the simple "travel light" message of Up In The Air, my favorite film of 2010, would not have resonated with me so much.

It was an expensive message (minimalism rules; you can't take anything with you, but while you're here, memories resonate a lot more than possessions), but when you think about it, $500 -- or roughly $6,254, if you factor in the cost of the storage space over 42 months -- isn't such a high price to pay for something that will last me the rest of my life.

And it doesn't take up an ounce of space.
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