Baggage

25 Feb

Over the weekend, I watched “Up in the Air” for the first time with my host family. It was a good movie and I found it fairly thought provoking in a number of ways. Like, “okay, I know I’m probably nowhere near 10 million miles, but I wonder how many I’ve flown?” (Answer: uh, I dunno? I don’t keep count, but I’ve done a fair amount of flying in my life.) More importantly, I kept thinking about George Clooney’s character’s spiel about things.

Put briefly, he says to imagine a backpack and then put all the things in your life into it. Tchotchkes, books, clothes, etc. Isn’t it heavy? Now set it on fire. What do you save? What really matters? It was meant to show his bleak and minimalist approach to life and something he comes to regret (along with his inability to create meaningful relationships) in the end. It makes sense, from a consumer’s perspective. But as someone who’s never lived in the same place for more than a year at a time for the past six years, I tend to take a different approach.

I can fit everything I own into two suitcases. Admittedly, one of those suitcases is a very large duffel bag that you could fit a body in, but still. In the interests of honesty, I do have boxes cached away in various places, notably my parent’s house in NY and a box or two that my sister has hanging around years after I said I’d deal with it (sorry about that!). I find it freeing, in a way. When packing up and moving is something you do at least once a year, you tend to judge things a little harsher. Do I really need to keep that ticket to the National Palace? Or how about those worksheets from that class I took on the Beijing Opera? I’m decidedly unsentimental about crap.*

This doesn’t make me better than you. It just means I have less stuff and I ruthlessly throw things out. When I end up settled in a place, I end up collecting things the same way everyone else does.** I pine for my dad’s book collection and gramma’s kitchenware. I just think that it would be good if everyone decluttered their lives every once in a while.

To end this on a funny note, here is Geroge Carlin’s famous rant on stuff:

 

 

*Except for my laptop. Bo gets all my love and then some.

 

**Protip: An empty bookcase will always end up overflowing with books. It’s a law of the universe.

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