We were absolutely sure that we wouldn’t be able to get all the stuff we ‘needed’ in Baja; that is, all the things we were accustomed to having in the U.S. But it turns out that an entire grocery store aisle of floor-to-ceiling breakfast cereals may not really be what we need. Big box stores that encourage buying in bulk are no longer what we require for a two-person household. And having abundant possibilities, well, tends to add a lot of clutter to our lives. The U. S. of A. – land of opportunity. Variety and options. Oh yeah, excess and overload.
Summer’s over, and we’re packing for our annual migration from the U.S. to Baja. As we evaluate what stays and what goes, we get to interact intimately with our stuff and check in with our values in the process. We get to play the game ‘Keep, Take, or Toss?’— and the decision to keep it needs a damn good reason. We all have our unique set of reasons for hanging onto our stuff.
I’ve discovered my three main reasons to keep something:
1) I am fond of aesthetically pleasing things, mostly ones that are handmade and created by someone with whom I have a personal connection.
2) I like having variety in my life, as in not using the same serving platter every single meal, or wearing the same outfit every day.
3) I am a creative person, and having materials at my fingertips for projects— fabrics, yarns, paints, beads, etc.—inspires my creativity.
Every year we head south for the simpler life. Everyone in our Loreto Baja community talks about de-stressing, de-cluttering, downsizing, and simplifying their lives. How ironic that each winter, we proceed to pack our cars to the gills with items unavailable in Baja. We stuff our armoires with clothes; our pantry cupboards with kitchenwares, appliances, and gourmet treats; our utility closets with just-in-case items of all sorts.
It seems as if our stuff multiplies while we’re away, in every closet, drawer, cupboard, storage shed, basement, and attic. On the return trip, we’re again faced with stuff and what to do with it. We donate and gift and toss and sell, all those precious possessions that are so important that we’ve kept them stored in boxes for twenty years. Why doesn’t it ever go away?
Every year I swear I will not bring any more stuff into either home, and whaddya know: the car manages to get packed to the gills. Every time. Both ways. Every year we chip away at the excess we’ve collected over the years, and revisit the reasons for keeping it all. As we attempt to simplify life, I’m considering a new standard: that everything we put into the car must in some way contribute to a simpler and happier life.