Stuff–What is it all?



You find yourself stuffing boxes with things like ratty old bedding, a rag rug you never finished (but plan to) or looking at a rusting metal ruler and thinking, Do I really need this? only to decide that the answer is yes.

No matter how few possessions I think I have, when it’s time to move, things seem to multiply. Things. Things! The question becomes, what exactly are these things and what are you willing to put yourself through to keep them?

I recently found the answer to that question. I spent long days and sleepless nights packing, took an 8-hour road trip to a shipping company and back, pulled out my hair deciding what to take and what to toss, and ultimately paid $1,000 USD to ship a bunch of things from Detroit to Belize. After much stress and decision fatigue, everything I own now fits in six cubic 18” boxes and a 166” linear inch luggage bag. What’s bad is I did the math and the contents of these packages are not worth more than $600, tops. Worse, when people ask me what I shipped, all I can say is, “stuff.”

Off the top of my head I can’t think of more than three things I stuffed into those packages. I wonder, if they were to get lost in transit, how much of that stuff would I actually miss? Last time I went abroad, the only things I missed were my yoga mat, my laptop, and my blender. So why didn’t I just pack those things, ditch the rest, and call it a move? Why would I spend precious time and money so that a bunch of forgettable stuff could follow me halfway across the globe?

I suspect it has something to do with emotional value. When the last box was totally full, I found myself trying to stuff a plastic, stained measuring cup in there and was upset when it didn’t fit. It certainly wasn’t the actual market value of the measuring cup that made me want to bring it with. It had to be something else. It was what that particular measuring cup meant to me after years of use. For me it held a warm familiarity and comfort. It’s hard to put a price on that.

Next time I make a big move I’ll be more cognizant of the comfort trap. I think as animals we have this ingrained desire to nest. My rusty rulers and unfinished rag rugs were like straws I picked to weave into my future nest. I would advise those making a big move to heavily consider the value of the things they are shipping and really get to the bottom of why they are clinging to any particular item. I would challenge everyone to look about their homes and evaluate their stuff. What is it and what would you do to keep it? As wait for my stuff to arrive at the sea port in Belize, I wonder how much of it I’ll miss, or if I’ll kick myself when open the boxes and say, Why on earth did I pack this?

In the meantime, I’ll be feasting on seasonal fruit: this time of year it’s bukut, and cashew apples (more on those later).

TIP: If you are moving internationally, ship barrels by land or sea. Yeah, it might take a couple weeks longer, but air freight is highway robbery. Do the research and get a shipping barrel and hang onto our life savings.

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