Packing a Life
What are we really doing when we pack our things in order to move someplace else?
The phrase "pack our things" seems so simple and straightforward. Monosyllabic. Three words. Action and results oriented. However, these words entail something much more than putting items into boxes. These words involve confronting the past, and setting a new course for the future.
Just last week, I officially moved from Chicago, Illinois to Fort Collins, Colorado. Moving myself physically was fairly undemanding: I packed some suitcases, boxes, plants, and a few other miscellaneous items into my small hatchback before Chauncey hopped into the passenger's seat with his tennis ball. I left Chicago at 4:30 a.m., and drove away from the rising sun. I arrived at 7:20 p.m. just as the last rays of light waved goodbye beyond the foothills. Having arrived six weeks prior, Josh waited for me in the driveway, welcoming me into our new life. As I mentioned, the moving itself was easy. I simply drove from point A to point B. However, the work done to make this move happen was a bit more calculated.
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” - Marie Kondo
Before the real packing began, Josh and I went from room to room, contemplating each and every item we owned. We've been living together for two years, so by now his possessions have become my possessions and vice versa. In turn, we carefully considered each piece of artwork, each kitchen accessory, each pair of sheets, and each clothing item. We consciously evaluated our stuff using our own version of the Marie Kondo method: does this item spark joy? Has that proven useful to us over the past year? Will this item have a purpose and place in our new lives? Have I worn that dress during the last six months? Will he ever wear that t-shirt again? We queried what we owned by thinking about the life we wanted to share together.
When Josh and I had been dating for six months, we sat together and thought: what kind of life do we want? The answer to that question was easy. We want a simple life, an unencumbered life. A life where we are not held back by the physical and mental clutter of "things." In order to achieve our goal, we have to allow ourselves to let go of the sentimental material goods from the past, therefore creating space for a more fulfilling emotional life for our future. Eliminating the excess is important so that we can move into the space beyond. The space where we will live should be a place for nurturing the people we are becoming, instead of a feeding area for the spirits of the past.
It is interesting to think about the action of packing and moving a life. The process involves just as much physical labor as it does mental labor. Packing and moving can be stressful and irritating, and people usually loathe the thought of moving. However, behind every stressful, irritating cloud there exists a silver lining.
Packing and moving presents a special opportunity to evaluate a life lived, giving us a chance to shape how we want our lives to be in the future.
Contemplating the things we own, deciding which things deserve to be carefully concealed with paper and securely packed into a box allows us to revisit the past. It's turning the pages of the book of life: reflecting on bygone days while preparing for the future. When considered out of context, our boxes stacked the garage, ready to be "Tetris-ed" into our POD, are a snapshot in time. These boxes are a representation of who we are now, and a harbinger of who we will become.
When we packed our lives, we examined our inner selves, completing a rite-of-passage into our new life together.