Fitting it all in two cars

Published by Peter on

I talk with a lot of people who seem to be fixated on the pursuit of permanence, but nothing is permanent.

I don’t mean that in the “this too shall pass” sense. I mean it in the “the sun is going to explode in about 5 billion years” sense.

I could spend pages and pages on this topic. When you really get into the idea of impermanence, when you really pull on all its threads, you must necessarily wander into topics of mortality, legacy, and the meaning of life. Impermanence is at the heart of all the deepest questions, one way or another.

Questions like “what is the meaning of life?” and “should I keep this bobblehead or throw it out?”

What to keep and what to throw away

That was a question I faced over and over the past few weeks. You see, yesterday my partner and I moved to a city 600 miles away from where we’d been living.

We both are pretty good at not collecting stuff. We don’t accumulate. We don’t hoard. We both retain memorabilia and meaningful artifacts from our lives before each other and our time together, but together we fit quite comfortably in a small, two-bedroom apartment.

But we didn’t really want to rent a truck for all the stuff we did have. So that meant paring it down to fit in a midsize SUV (mine) and a gutted minivan (borrowed from a friend).

So that’s what we did.

Some things I’d had for years I took a picture of and donated (like a San Jose Earthquakes bobblehead of Chris Wondolowski from 2011).

Just before it got donated.

Others I decided to hold on to (like my D&D dice from the early 1980s, even though I haven’t used them in 30 years).

So many fun memories.

It was a complicated calculation for each item: size, weight, importance, replaceability, and resale value all factored into each decision.

And it was a brutal process. I got rid of several things that recalled cherished memories, for example. Dropping them off at Goodwill was not easy.

What was easy was the actual move: loading the two cars took just 90 minutes, and unloading took 45 minutes. Plus, no expensive rental trucks to pick up and return.

Disruption can test your values

Something like an interstate move can really test your value system. It’s expensive, time-consuming, complicated, and disruptive. It’s rare when a move like this doesn’t put at least a couple of your core values in conflict with each other.

Same with a job change, a marriage or divorce, having a child, launching a child to adulthood, facing illness or end of life, and so many other things in life.

All day long, in every way, we’re beset by messages telling us what we should value. These messages come from our culture, our families, our friends, our employers, our colleagues, advertisers, politicians, faith leaders, and pretty much everyone else who has a voice in our lives.

When your values are in conflict, how do you decide what to sacrifice and what to keep? How do you decide which of those many voices to listen to, and which to ignore or reject?

For us in this move, we found peace of mind in economy, flexibility, freedom, and being unburdened by the things we had to carry. I know many other people find more peace of mind in holding on to all their things, even if it costs more and takes more time.

Nothing is permanent

But not me. I put very little value in physical things. I put very little value in the idea of permanency. I feel it gets in the way of adventure. I feel it gets in the way of learning.

Focusing too much on permanency can obscure the beauty of this moment, right now. Trying to make temporary things permanent can blind you to the possibility of change.

Sometimes old things need to make way for new things. Old ideas need to make way for new ones.

Nothing is permanent. In 5 billion years, the sun will explode and both that bobblehead and my D&D dice will be incinerated.

In the meantime, though, I think I’ll hold on to those dice a little longer. Honestly? I don’t know why. I just will.

Just me and my partner riding north.

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