Imagine you must pack up and move, bringing no more than the things you can fit in your car. What do you bring?
Humans have had to answer this question, in one form or another, throughout history. It’s a stanchion of American culture, from 19th-century settlers to 20th-century immigrants to wartime forced relocations. (In the framework above replace “car” with “wagon,” “steamship,” and “bus,” respectively.) Today, a variety of forces – school, work, lifestyle, love – summons young adults far from their roots. Whether by choice or necessity, those of my generation rarely hire a moving company, and the move becomes an opportunity to pare down and discover what’s really important.
My brother and his girlfriend recently moved from Boston to Denver in a 2007 Toyota Highlander. They survived their four-day road trip with the back seat folded down and the rear filled absolutely to capacity – a mere 80.6 cubic feet, the size of a shower stall, for the complete possessions of two people.
What did they bring? Clothes, linens, kitchen supplies, a smattering of furniture (they purchased a sleeper sofa upon arrival), and a few tokens of their past life such as artwork, books, and Vermont microbrews. Before their departure, my brother threw out or gave away innumerable clothes, books, furnishings, and mementos – a painful yet liberating process.
They unpacked the car into a relatively palatial 540-square-foot apartment overlooking the Front Range of the Rockies. They have everything they need and precious little they don’t. The space is unmistakably Denver, but it’s also unmistakably THEM. It’s magnificent.
Could you do what my brother did? What stuff really matters in your life?