The Problem with Possessions

One thing a traveler realizes when she really gets going is that possessions really have a way of getting, well, in the way. You learn that the fewer things you have, the fewer things you have to leave behind.

As the semester end draws ever nearer, I’m looking around my house wondering what I’m going to do with all of my furniture.

There are easy solutions to this, sure. One, I put all out on the curb for free. Two, I try to sell it in a yard sale or on Craigslist. Three, I work out a way to move it all along with me as I go to my next destination. The last one seems like the least effort, but I’m not entirely sure that’s true. You have to rent a U-haul or recruit family members to traverse to wherever you’ve chosen.

Then there’s the matter of your living circumstances. How long are you going to be in that place? Is it wiser to just rent an apartment? Do you sign a lease or avoid that? Maybe instead I’ll buy a home and rent it to people while I’m away just to have a “home base.” There are problems with just about every option you look at.

That’s certainly not the end of it, because then you have relationships. Does a traveler just try not to get attached to anyone for fear she might be headed onto her next big project? Do you decide to go ahead with a relationship with the mentality of “it’s fun while it lasts?” None of those seem very fulfilling in my opinion.

I’m technically old enough, but haven’t yet had children. Dependents are another issue. I don’t have kids, but I do have a dog. Every time I want to go anywhere I have to secure somewhere for him to stay. Ideally it’s with friends or family so I know he’s in good hands, and sometimes that caretaker will assure me that he or she loves my dog and me enough to watch him for free. But once I’ve used up all of that goodwill, or those people are too far away, a boarding kennel is really my only option. That’s expensive and risky. He could get sick there or something could happen and I’m not easily available. I can’t even imagine dealing with that situation and having a child. I suppose one hopes you have a significant other who is a part of that and would take care of them, but I don’t think anywhere in the life handbook is that a guarantee.

I’m really not sure there’s an easy answer to any of this, and I’m also pretty sure it comes straight down to personal choice. I’ve heard of some people who ditch all their possessions and just live without them. Rita Golden Gelman is a good example of this, but she was lucky in that her kids were grown up already.

Others, like Lainie Liberti (@ilainie, raisingmiro.com) take their dependents with them on their travels and use it as learning enrichment. I’m not sure if travel would really enrich my dog’s life, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t have the same impact. Another issue with dogs is that when you take them over international border, they often have to be quarantined for a set amount of time. I don’t think you have that trouble with children.

If you look at relationships in the way that Elisabeth Eaves does in her book, it’s pretty clear that more often than not she takes the “fun while it lasts” route.

I don’t know where I fall in all of this. I’m currently walking along in the “cross that bridge when I come to it” mentality and that’s a tough spot for me. I love to pre-plan things. I like to know what to expect in unexpected situations. I know Murphy’s law tends to dictate that if you plan for A, B and C, D is sure to come along instead, but I plan anyway.

It would be extremely helpful to know how even more people, and especially journalists, cope with these kind of situations. And I’m almost certain the answer is bound to be “it depends” but I really do hate that answer. I’m not sure I can argue with it though.

I guess I’ll just wait for my bridges.

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2 thoughts on “The Problem with Possessions

  1. Hey! I saw a couple of your tweets with Jacqui B, and wound up on your blog. Glad I did! While you’re at Mizzou, you should look up Miranda Metheny. She’s a grad student at the J-School and is always hopping in between home in Missouri and places overseas. Like you say, travel plans totally depend on the person, but I know Miranda would have a lot of thoughts to share. Good luck with whatever you do!

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