Death to the pack rat. 

(Don’t need much more than this)

The best part about moving is the inevitable downsizing that comes with it. I don’t particularly like “stuff”. Well, that’s actually sort of inaccurate. I like stuff. I have a habit of picking up junk whenever I travel, little trinkets that remind me of where I’ve been. Sentimentality should be for people and experiences, not trinkets. I know it’s a bad habit, and I’m breaking myself of it. 

For the past six months I’ve been staying with my grandparents, and that experience has really brought the value of a minimalist approach to life into a tangible experience. They have rooms filled with things that probably had some value when they bought it, but now they don’t even remember what half of it is. That’s the path I was heading down I think. Buying things and assigning value to them, then putting them somewhere and forgetting about them. To hell with that. 

So how do we alter that course once we realize we’re on it? 

The biggest step for me was thinking about every object as a tool. An implement that I use to improve some aspect of life. Once that value has been assigned, it’s a lot easier to get rid of meaningless objects. 

The hiccups you run into tend to center around the thought that you may need or use something at some point in the future. There are a few approaches to avoiding this. The first is one purported by “the minimalists” (they run a podcast that’s chock full of advice on removing excess). Their idea involves setting an amount of time, 90/30/60 days etc. Go through each item and ask yourself if you have used, or will use it within that set amount of time. 

The process I’ve been using is actually one I was taught ages ago by my mother, and probably should have paid more attention to. She called it “sometimes, always, never”. In this case, the process sort of speaks for itself. Group things into categories of sometimes, always and never. Get rid of the “never”, keep the always and the next time you go through the process, anything you haven’t needed to take out of “sometimes” gets tossed/donated/sold. 

Having lived on the road and trail the way I have, I’m almost cutthroat when I do this. It’s not necessary to be, but for me it works.Except for books. I haven’t had the heart to get rid of any of them. We all have our little vices. 

So, the holidays are coming up, and with that comes more things you don’t really need. There are ways around offending those family members and friends that find joy in giving things. I’m personally a big fan of Heifer international, so that’s usually what I ask for, but there are plenty of other charities that can serve the same purpose. 

If you’re really serious about trying this, and those friends don’t support it, in my eyes they might not be friends worth having. Hell, there’s probably another article worth writing about learning to declutter your life of friends who aren’t good for you, or don’t support you. I’m notoriously bad at it, another type of sentimentality I’d be better off without. 

So, as the title of this piece implies; try and kill the pack rat this holiday season. At the very least give it a couple knocks to the noggin for good measure. 

Take care everyone, and enjoy the holidays.

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3 thoughts on “Death to the pack rat. 

  1. I’m somewhat of a wanderer myself. I’ve been trying to whittle down my belongings to as little as possible for years, which has always felt good. But now I’m moving to Australia and have finally had to get rid of all my books. It’s a little sorry to say, but I feel I have lost a big part of myself without them..

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  2. I can relate fellow, having had a sizeable library, I use to travel with over 40 books in England, everywhere I would go, it was just that surplus baggage that I didn’t mind hauling around, but then as I limited my possessions and move the books to my back, it became a problem. It took my 3 years to reduce down to just my current turtle shell of a rucksack, a 90L canvas bag from the military actually, and having this one enclosed system, I’ve learned the packing ritual quite intimately. Everything has a story, and memory from the places I have taken them, you know they take on their own character even and hold on to visions, almost nothing was exchanged for money either, but the literature, when you are mostly alone, is company that comes and goes.

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