When I’m abroad I learn to live with little. I know it’s good for me to be reminded that I can manage with five sets of clothes, that life is possible with two pairs of shoes and only one sweater..
Luggage has its limits and I am glad of it. Having less, and being still wholly myself, reminds me how little possessions really mean. I am not diminished by having a shiny, unpowdered face, wearing flips flops with everything or having hair blown dry by the breeze.
I am not my stuff. I am not thinned out to a look, a lip gloss dependency.
There is a seductive lightness in having less. It is good to be reminded that so little is more than enough, to know that life emptied out can still be full, can still be well blessed.
The recognition of how little I really need is a relief, a thirst quenched. From this perspective I am freer to say thank you, to see the surplus and delight in it, rather than looking to the lack.
And yet my mountains of things come at a cost. I am glad to be heart-humbled when the cleaner digs my empty perfume bottle from the bin, as the prettiest thing she’s ever seen. I am glad to feel awkward when I realise my mobile phone cost more than an annual wage. I am glad to stay raw, to feel the jolt and jar of average awful injustice.
And yet I am not cured of wanting. You see, I am a poor utilitarian – I love beautiful things. I hoard memories and moments in my jewellery box, buy hopes for the life I’m wishing on…
I went away with 15KG of baggage. I came back with 25KG – burdened down by a bargain bulk of lovely nothings. I was a little embarrassed by the size of my bag.
Here at home, I’m confronted with more lavish life, laid out in wait, magnified by my own indifference. I have been met by an avalanche of everything I’d forgotten I own. I am baffled by bags and shoes, intimidated by the closet, utterly befuddled by how much I have.
I have a world of wealth in my one small room and I feel almost ashamed.
So, I have been camping on my bed as if surrounded by someone else’s space, as if I wandered in to someone else’s life. I am hemmed in by the things I have and I want to shed a skin, shake them loose.
I know I’ve felt this same homecoming shock before, so I’m resisting the urge to bolt, make a break or give everything away in my first week. I’m taking in ‘don’t panic’ with a deep breath and waiting for weathered wisdom.
In this place of pause, this silence in between one life and another, the things I own speak volumes. Some speak of happiness and generosity: the warm gloves my dad bought for a winter he wouldn’t see, framed smiles that will never be forgotten, love fly-leafed in books, and long-lost joys nestled in dusty cardboard boxes.
Other things say simply “sale rail”. They have no stories worth telling, no meanings worth their weight.
When I stop to listen, they talk of boredom, emptiness, a need to look better, to feel better, to have flying life seem solid and safe. These false friends only clutter, cramp, and catch. I don’t want their shallownesses speaking for me or defining my life.
It may be time to do some clearing out of my closets..