At my high school graduation my teacher/mentor/now long-time friend gave a speech to our class instructing us to sell everything we owned and travel. At the time that seemed an exceptionally good idea. Just over a year after that I moved to Italy for 8 months bringing with me only one suitcase of belongings.
Now ten years later I find myself once again in Europe, this time having sold just about everything we owned, and keeping only the most precious and useful things.
We have been in France for three months and in that time we’ve been living out of our suitcases and a few boxes as we wait for official paperwork to go through. It has been an eye-opening few months, changing the way I want to live. This past weekend we moved yet again to another vacation rental. (It’s hard to find a vacation rental for more than a month!) This time we’ve moved into a home that is being rented only for the summer. It is more like house sitting. The people who live here really love this house and you can tell in all the fine details. It’s a well organized house with lots of room for hanging out together as a family both inside and outside. The kitchen is a dream and already has all the things that I would want to get for a kitchen, which got me to thinking about communal living in which you could share kitchen things.
Moving from the tiny apartment in the village to this lovely home in the countryside was not too hard, but I realized that, for nomads, we have way too many things. It made me think a lot about my goal of simplicity and living with less. As I moved box after box of things, I thought: do we use this all the time, why do we have this? Is it because I feel sentimental about it? Have I kept it because I want someone else to see it and think of me in a certain way. From the apartment to this new house I made 4 car trips. Albeit our rental car is very small and two of those trips I had car seats in the car and couldn’t carry as much, but still.
I began to think about what is really needed for each of my interests right now. In the kitchen for example: can I get away with one chopping knife, one pan, and one pot? What about all my crafty hobbies? Maybe I need to think about the three most important ones and keep it to that, even though I would love to try out so many more. What about our homeschooling right now, art supplies, musical instruments, science experiments? What do we really need to have now that we have an amazing outdoor space? Can the girls be fine with just a pile of books and the fairy tale box? Do we have too many clothes? I been doing a lot of contemplation over this matter.
I had no idea back in January how different this experience was going to be. Having no place of our own for over three months has changed my mind completely about buying anything. We have no space to bring things around with us so every purchase needs to be useful, or consumable. Easy to say and hard to do when you see lovely fabric or cool wooden toys or awesome handmade shoes, or new video game….
I’m aching to plant a garden again, but content to buy my produce from farmers markets and organic grocery stores for now. I’m ready to make lots of things from scratch again. (There is a food processor here!) I feel like I’ve lost the life I so eagerly started four years ago and I am so ready to get it back.
What I am learning though is being content in this moment, it’s slow and sometimes aggravating to wait or to just let go of the desire for something different. My ego keeps poking at me telling me I need something different. But I am seeing the benefits of this lesson and it is going to be good. Once again the theme for the year pops up “let go”.
Have you ever been a nomad? Have you ever sold everything you owned to start from scratch?