Travel is Simple, Home is Complicated
Have you found that when you are traveling, life is much simpler? This isn’t a “no email or phone” thing. When I travel for work, I’m still on my computer and phone. But I might check my email 2 or 3 times per day and send any responses then. I’ll log onto my computer in the afternoon to work on a few things before dinner. Yet at the office, I find myself checking email almost constantly, checking my personal gmail on my phone at every break, answering every single phone call and text immediately, thinking about what needs to get done next and generally not moving through the day with deliberate thought. Instead, it’s an overactive state that ends up in no real action.
That kind of overstimulation is exhausting. At home, the TV is always on. We have family staying with us for a few days who are glued to the TV whenever we’re home, and my husband is also someone who likes the TV on as background noise. I prefer silence. I can usually find silence very quickly when I travel. But home often feels like: BUZZ. BUZZ. BUZZ. Anywhere I look there is something to do: dishes to wash. Clothes to put away or wash. A big pile of clutter.
No matter where or why we are traveling, we pare down to the necessities. Only the clothes you’ll wear. Only the book or two you’ll be reading. If you’re staying in a hotel, open the bedside table’s drawer and marvel in its emptiness (and maybe a Bible). Having just returned from two weeks of simple, enjoyable travel, it makes me wonder why my bedside table is stuffed with a bunch of papers I don’t look at, old knickknacks, and, inexplicably, my husband’s high school varsity letter? What the hell? In my ideal world, there is one book and a lamp on this table. The drawer should be empty, because as I rifle through it, I find nothing useful.
When we travel, our actions are pared down, as are our possessions. In daily life, I find myself making many unnecessary moves (overchecking my phone and email, letting errands take up an entire day), and not making the effort to reduce our existing stuff. But I believe there is a route to sanity in daily life, it just requires something I have never done before. I need to get rid of all the stuff that no longer has a useful, regular purpose. There are three main categories where I see this in my life:
- Clothing, shoes and personal accessories
- Papers and Knick-knacks
I don’t need to live on the road, I love having a home. But that home shouldn’t feel crowded or it takes away from its beauty as “object that provides shelter”. We have a large walk-in closet, but it’s filled with stuff we (mostly I) don’t use. If we got rid of a lot of that stuff, we have a space big enough to do something else (work desk, hideout, meditation room). I have probably 8 large boxes of books. But I am not sure I need those books anymore. Once I have read them, maybe I can give them away? Maybe I can start a little library at a community center. I am tired of being weighed down by stuff. That’s not to say all our stuff is useless. I use our blender at least 3 times a week for smoothies. I wear my workout clothes for tennis, hiking, yoga and everything else active regularly. Our couch is a place for us to wind down and chat at the end of the day, and where guests can feel welcome. And we don’t have any dishes, glasses or cutlery that we don’t use all the time. I’m not looking to get rid of everything, but I think there are a lot of things I can do without.