Packing is so strange. I’m listening to this epically long book on tape right now and one of the mini-stories in the story is about this woman who lives in a trailer in the desert as a tenant to her opposite, but for free because she maintains his broad-leaf trees (in the desert?). She lives on less than $1,600 per year because she chooses, too. She carries a plastic bag to pick up other people’s trash. She is as old as my grandmother and she gives homeless people money because she doesn’t imagine she needs it. And she eats food from dumpsters sometimes (e.g. a can of avocado paste and two bags of baby carrots), talking about it all in the context of American greed and excess.
Once, this woman decided to live for six-month stints in other cities and towns around the United States. Her entire life fit into 6 boxes that she sent ahead and then followed by bus.
I am packing for a year with space for two big suitcases, a small suitcase, a backpack and golf clubs. It’s probably about the same as six boxes. But I am a recent college graduate. Already I have too many things, too many objects pulling me into attachments.
For a while, there were articles in news outlets like the New York Times and NPR and Time all about minimalists. It was like we had taken a moment to notice that some people live debunking the consecrated tradition of consumerism – and we were realizing that some people choose to, rather than have to.
Anyway, I don’t really know if 100 items is the answer, but I think we are better off when we limit ourselves. It stems from theories by the Hobbes and Locke types; we are fundamentally freer with restrictions, be they governmental or cultural. Maybe it’s biblical (and Buddhist), too; discipline of the body sets the mind free.
Whatever the answer, I’m going to keep packing and keep throwing shirts in the hallway to donate to Goodwill.