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Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Moving Day

Everything material in this world is fleeting. Even the pyramids will be gone some day. A moving truck was parked in front of an apartment building near mine the other day. I watched as the movers hauled off a house’s worth of possessions. A life’s worth of possessions were being boxed up and placed on the truck. It made me stop and think of everything that I have left behind in my life of many, many moves. What will I leave behind when Seattle is just another place where I used to live?

There is certainly nothing among my possessions that I can’t live without. For the most part, anything that can be bought can be replaced. Is there anything that I will miss? Not really.

There is a wonderful freedom in not being burdened by stuff. I suppose that this is mostly true if you are by nature a traveler. When I go away anywhere, whether it’s a short trip or a journey, I pack a single medium-sized backpack that fits in the airline overhead. What I leave behind in the way of creature comforts I more than make up for in ease of movement. Once, on a trip to Los Angeles, the cab dropped me off at the wrong terminal at LAX and I had to run about ½ mile to make my flight. Had I been encumbered with luggage I would have missed my flight.

I understand people who don’t feel the need to get up and move every so often--I’m just not one of those people. I remember passing through some village in the Austrian Alps. I went into a tavern for something to eat. I looked around at the crowd and I could tell that these people had lived in this village since birth and weren't planning on leaving any time soon. Why would they? It was a beautiful alpine hamlet that seemed very prosperous. No one probably ever leaves that place. Having lived here in Seattle for 3 ½ years now I certainly can understand why people feel no urge to leave this place. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. But I am just visiting and sooner or later I’ll move to visit some other city. Seattle will be one of the few places I have lived in my life that I will miss when I leave.

It always amazes me the speed with which I acquire things. When I moved here to Seattle I sold or gave away an enormous amount of stuff. Most of it was junk, some of it wasn’t, but all of it was expendable. I came here with the bare minimum and already my place is bulging at the seams with stuff. I should start getting rid of some of this stuff right now. As the saying goes, "He who moves with the most toys pays a fortune in moving expenses."

Moving day is coming for all of us sooner or later. What will you do with all of your stuff? Back in the days of the ancient Egyptians they didn't have yard sales so they stuffed all of their crap into a pyramid. They also didn't have the option of giving most of their stuff away to their Haitian immigrant neighbors like I did when I left south Florida a few years ago. The best thing is to resist accumulating so much junk in the first place. Having less stuff means not needing such a big pyramid. Having a smaller place means you don't have room to put new crap even if you really want it. This is all detailed more thoroughly by Thoreau in Walden.

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