Travelling, Not So Light

“You might have noticed… last month we had to move. For one year we were living and working in a beautiful spacious flat on the ground floor of an converted old school building in Battersea. Just around the corner from Battersea park, which is simply an amazing place. Now we live still near the park, still in the old school building, 2 floors up actually.

What we lost? About half the floor space and the 4 meter tall ceiling for example. When you rent in London, this is what can happen easily, because it seems that half of the landlords are constantly speculating. And since Brexit is looming, most of them are getting cold feet. But that’s another story.

It wasn’t an easy move, because it was not easy to find something suitable in the short amount of time. It took a bit of organising talent. To make matters worse, half of our personal stuff is now sitting in a 20ft container, while we consider our options and prepare the next move. So life feels a bit… well, temporary.

So I started reflecting on the idea of travelling light. Again. It is a topic that has been on my mind forever. I always envied the people who could put their things in a suitcase and move. I couldn’t. It’s not that my roots stopped me, I’m not a tree. But I have to admit I’m a bit of a hunter-gatherer, so That suitcase would have been a rather large one. Ever since I can remember, I was collecting something. Which doesn’t help with one’s mobility, unless you’re really rich. Things are getting better, slowly. Since the last move, a little bit over a year ago, we managed to drop a bit of ballast. I parted from half a ton of magazines. A broken camera. Some useless decoration. And more…

Well, we’re not under the illusion that we will ever travel light. To begin with, our son does require his cot, a trolley, a scooter, some balls and a pile of Lego. Which means we’d still need a pretty big suitcase. But it’s certainly the beginning of some useful decluttering, both physical and mental. Which brings me of course to the point of evaluating the things we carry with us.

First, there are the really personal things. Things one would not part, because somehow they are almost like the extension to yourself. Or at least in most the extension to your memory. Old photos. The teddy bear that is as old as you are. Drawings and sketches. Things that evoke sweet memories or remind you of funny anecdotes. Oh, and books. But books are something different altogether, are they not?

There are of course also the things we believe they are personal, but they’re not. For various reasons. Maybe they were personal once but you lost connection. Quite often you stumble upon them and they tell you…. nothing. I’d say, first things to go. These are the worst offenders and one needs them like a pair of concrete boots.

On the other hand of the spectrum there are the practical things that you need and use and throwing them away and replace them after moving would exceed the costs of moving them. That’s why you’d keep the designer sofa but certainly not the Ikea bookshelf. Mind you, that bookshelf will not survive another move anyway. If this way of thinking is really sustainable is of course another matter, but that’s not the question here.

Last but not least there’s the grey zone. Things that aren’t really personal or really that important to you. And you could throw them away and replace them easily or even find out that you don’t need them that urgently. And yet, there’s possibly a reason for keeping them… because they’ve grown familiar to you and finding them in the new place helps you making that place a home. Now this may be a good thing or a bad thing, because some of us need this ‘home’ feeling more than others, and to some this feeling is the true ballast that you’d need to drop to be truly mobile.

For me, this is something I’ll need to think long and hard about and hopefully come to a conclusion before the next move. Because no matter if we’ll travel light or a bit less light next time, I don’t want to feel like we’re dragging anything with us that makes us unhappy.”