I hate packing. I hate putting my life into bags and boxes and crates; sorting out my life, simplifying, decluttering, drawing the wider me into a more compact and leaner footprint. I hate it, and yet I would love it to be done.
In fact, one of the people I most envy is my friend and very funny man, Wouter Meijs. Heading to Edinburgh last year, he had packed his entire life into a daysack, including paperwork, which he had managed to cut down to an A5 sized, 3 inch thick block. Apart from that, he has his prize posession, a particularly swift and flash bicycle. Wouter cuts a lean figure both physically and figuratively.
On the other hand, going through my wardrobe I can see the things that I couldn’t get rid of unless there were a fire. Clothing I rarely wear, yet, when I do, there is no alternative. For instance, my cream dinner jacket; I have only worn it a couple of time in the past 5 years, protocol demanding that one only bring it out for summer black tie and there having been a dearth of suitable hot weather invites of late. But what does that tell me? Should I get rid of it or should I try to go to more parties? In effect, the clothing is aspirational; I’ve a wardrobe full of desire.
So, do I take my inspiration for clearing my closets from the current government’s desire to cut the public sector ? As with the clothing that I won’t get rid of, each and every project has a valid raison d’etre, each item, vital for the people of the country, and the incentive to make things leaner competes with the perceived value of the piece of clothing. In the country of me, I am both nurse, general, benefit supplicant and traffic warden (nurse is the best uniform though)
One difference, I suppose, is that I am about to go to America, I do at least have an excuse to try to declutter, whereas the last time the country went on a lengthy foreign holiday, it was primarily the men, they were carrying guns and many didn’t return. As war is only popular with young men brimming with testosterone and a belief in a cause, maybe the reason I struggle to declare war on my possessions is that I am becoming too settled. Not something I want to admit, but something I maybe have to accept.
Of course, were I to start from scratch, for instance the kit with which I will arrive in America, I only need very little. A couple of towels, a few shirts, trousers, a jacket, and stuff to make me look beautiful. Like a toothbrush. There will be something extremely liberating about that, a simple existence – and I will no doubt fill up the new vacuum with new clutter.
Yet I do so strive for the nakedness of nothing, to skinnydip through life, to be an urban naturist. I’m currently more like the old homeless lady pushing a trolley full of stuff that I doubt anyone else wants either. Yet even she could replace the weight of her wire chariot’s contents with the slightness of her own frame, and, stripped down to her wrinkly smile, feel the air rush past skin that hasn’t seen sunlight in years as she launches her improvised go cart down the Leicester Square escalator.
Thinking about that, it might not be such a good idea. Might make a decent video post though.
In the next week I will pack my life away. In 3 months time, 3 months during which I will have done perfectly well without it, I will come back and choose what I want to bring out of storage. I’m no Wouter Meijs, but I challenge myself to change. I too can be as naked at Wouter.