This may not be the most exciting of posts out there in internetland but for me it is the beginning of my move to a mobile life. In a lot of ways there seems to be little difference to this day than any other day as I have spent most of my adult life living out of suitcases and boxes. Work and life took me here there and almost everywhere never really settling anywhere always on the move so the idea of no fixed abode is not daunting to me. When you travel light there is not much to hold you back in the places you can go and the lighter the nimbler. This kind of life is not for everyone and I sometimes wonder if I will carry it on for ever as maybe in the twilight years one wants comfort and stability. But for now I am prep for where the wind will take me next, whether that is down the street or to the other side of the world.
Just going to visit friends is no big occurrence but the opportunity to work out how much stuff is needed for a weekend away when one has a car to ram stuff into is not really an incentive to travel light. Having like I said spent allot of my life travelling for work I was very use to having a regulated luggage due to hoping on and off planes frequently, but looking back I can see that I probably could have traveled will way less stuff and still managed to operate as a normal citizen of society. But the desire now to minimise all that I travel with is an interesting experiment it what is seemingly on the boundaries of social acceptance. I’m not about to say I am going to live in the same clothes for a week but the need to take a change for everyday now seems somewhat extravagant. I also wonder how many people actually notice that you have worn the same clothes for two days in a row. Obviously environment plays a big part in all this and if I was doing exerting work outdoors all day long then it would be a different matter but for this weekend I decided to try out taking the smallest bag I could find thus limiting the volume. I discounted my walking boots as there’s no way I would put them in any bag normally and I wasn’t about to start trying to drive with them but that was the only concession. The interesting thing about it was with some ingenious rolling and combining the clothing part took up a lot less space, the bulk of the space was taken up with the tech gear and toiletries. This got me to thinking with careful use just how much shower gel would one of the 100ml travel bottles last. Hmmm yes this maybe becoming a bit obsessional me thinks, but it is actually an interesting avenue of thought that in this day and age of mass consumption going in the opposite direction is seen as somewhat anarchic but it wasn’t that long ago that our parents or grandparents were living an unintentional minimalist life where there was very limited resources and one had to make do. I don’t think that we will necessarily go back to a time like that but I think that there maybe a time when resources that we take for granted are in some sort of restriction, just take the chick pea shortage as a kind of example of the moment. But the whole point of all of this is that actually I probably need a lot less of everything, not just the stuff I am carrying around with me.
I’ll leave with a pic of a lighthouse, and try not to utter to many cliches about lighting the way etc etc. I’m looking forward to my next outing and pondering using other modes of transport to my goal.
I have been looking out for something suitable to be the basis of my onebagonelife experiment and as luck would have it I was donated this handsome suitcase by a generous donor who had used it for a few years but now felt they needed new. I had expected to have to buy a suitcase and looking around there is so much choice that it was a bit overwhelming so am happy in a way I don’t have to trawl the internet for reviews and posts about the best suitcase that would fit my needs. I had no idea that there were some many different types and the cost of some is staggering when you consider how much use one is normally likely to get out of it. For those few weeks away a year is it really worth spending many hundreds of pounds to keep ones clothes safe, well yes I know its more than that but… Maybe it’s me but I have never travelled with excessive quantities of stuff and for some time I have always attempted to travel with a minimum install, relying on the flexible friend to provide for anything I may have forgotten or overlooked. I had a friend who jokingly opined that all you needed to travel with was a toothbrush and a credit card, however this is just not practical in everyday life unless you want to be wasteful and end up with a mountain of stuff you may only have used a handful of times and I’m sure he didn’t live by his own credence. Certainly travelling with the bare minimum is practical as there are not many places that one travels to that services like washing or some spare items of clothing can’t be found.
But as I am not using the suitcase for that purpose it is not a problem for me, it is rather that it is my wardrobe, bathroom cabinet, bookshelf, writing desk, box of bits under the bed and many other things all rolled into one. Just how much it will hold I have no idea as I have not started to rationalise what I actually want to have with me at any given moment. There are the basics and as I have said in a previous post I will have a collection of items that I want to keep for either sentimental reasons or that will move with me to where I settle for longer periods that won’t be kept in the bag. However this needs to be small as I don’t want to clutter up my families space(s) to the point they don’t want to look after it for me.
So the more compact I can make the contents of my suitcase the better. I have this idea that it is a Swiss Army knife of storage, not including that “thing to take stones out of horses hoofs” though, but more like it has the necessary equipment for different modes of living. As an example I have a day sack that can be used for hiking and the individual items can be swopped around depending on location and season but only is used on those occasions but things in it will also be used for daily life. Or, if I am staying somewhere for a prolonged period I have items to make it seem more like a home. This may seem very optimistic and I may have grossly over estimated the capacity to hold my life but this is the fun of finding out. Can one get set of bedding and such in on top of all the clothing etc. That’s where vacuum packing comes in and something I will be covering at a later date.
One aspect I am thinking about is the cost of replacement of all my worldly goods and chattels in the event of some disaster. If one is not attached to the ‘things’ then replacing is purely a logistics operation and with that in mind I set up an Amazon wish list with every item I have or am putting in the bag so that not only do I have an idea of the monetary value but also an easy and quick way to replace any lost item(s). It is also interesting to analyse what is actually important and what is nice to have. I think given that I will have very little space to have frivolous items this sharpens the mind to each individual item and its use and whether it may have multiple uses. I think this is where intentionalism is highlighted over minimalism as I am not living with nothing I am choosing very carefully the things I do own. It is a bit of a grey area to me but I prefer to think of this as an intentional choice.
This then leads to the need to have a buffer fund for replacement. Calculating this cost highlights that certainly the largest portion of the pie chart comes from the tech related kit. However there are always alternatives, but given that I am not going to be wasting loads trying to keep up with the latest I can be far more careful in how purchases need to be made.
I have been watching quite a lot of light weight camping channels and have been thinking how can I transpose the method in to day to day life. On the whole no one considers the weight of their household items but when you have to carry it around it makes a difference. There are many optimisations one can make but from what I see it comes at a cost. For the time being I will stick with what I have and maybe look at upgrading inventory as and when I can.
My plan to start off with is to have 14 days worth of general clothing and 3 items of weather proof gear and coats. However I hope to make these as light and compact as possible. This may prove way too much but only experience will tell. I know I am going to have to cut back somewhere but only by trying will I find out what works for me.
So onebagonelife has a bag!
I have been gathering my thoughts about minimal living and minimalism over the last couple of years and trying to clarify what feels best for me. I certainly don’t want to live in a white room with only a chair in it nor do I want to be carrying around decades of detritus under the guise it has some kind of value. One of the hardest things to get ones head around is what is actually important. Now I know that there is a a huge spectrum of what that means to each person but guess there is a happy medium for all of us that sit somewhere in the middle of utter chaos and extreme simplicity.
Looking into this world of downsizing and minimalism it seems to attract a kind of people that have a somewhat nomadic way of life and I have no evidence to back this up but it would be interesting to see a study of the socio-economic demographics of this group. They are probably out there and I should have done some homework. But it would seem to me that this compact living allows for and encourages a more mobile life.
I guess what really switched me on to the whole ‘thing’ was stumbling across a podcast of the Minimalists around 2013. I was already aware of the tiny house movement and many other forms of smaller living before but I really started to explore the possibility of living life with less when an enforced move lead me to question the things that owned due to the cost of moving and storing them. Now as I said I really am not about ditching all the things that I hold dear for the sake of some doctrine that decrees that possessions are bad but I am trying to get to a point where the things I do own have meaning to me beyond any sentimental or monetary value, i.e. the cost of replacing them. Somethings are irreplaceable like Mum’s hand made quilt, the family photos of the parts of the family no longer with us, from a time when there were very records of people and places unlike now where a phone can hold a multitude of history. Everything can be replace expect me, or should I say people, so with that mantra most of the stuff strewn around me is mainly junk. However that then brings into questions the methods of disposing of it or recycling it. The old me would have just taken it all to the dump. I know they can strip out a load of stuff, pulp and generally reuse quite a bit now but even so the idea of land filling a bunch of plastic etc is not appealing and I would rather someone get some more use out of it that it end up in a landfill site. It’s not that long ago that “we” did naturally recycle and I have strong memories of being taken skip diving and dump hunting when I was a little boy. It was certainly a lot more acceptable then and my parents parents generation made do with even less.
So that led me on to how can I give it away? Easy, there are now more ways than ever to donate unused and unloved things and I have started asking anyone in my immediate social sphere if I can give it away. On top of that I have started to Freecycle things too, yes there are other sites available but thats the one I ran into first. Once you get into the swing of thinning out and overcoming the anxiety of not having more. It is amazing the freeing feeling one gets when the layers of lifes detritus are lifted away and slowly one feels like one can breath again not weighed down both psychically and metaphorically crap. The act of giving is also a affirming experience and although I have made minimal efforts on that front through my life I feel that this is something I want to continue. Giving back I believe is the phrase. Someone once said something about “doing something for nothing is good for the soul” and I would heartily agree. What does all of this have to do with intentional living? Well in my view it is bound up in the premise of trying to live intentionally. What does that really mean? we hear so much about trying to live this ways in its many guises but for me I think it just boils down to thinking about the consequences of my decisions and actions when it comes to pretty much any avenue of life not just the things we buy. I was pointed to this post over on twitter and it really struck a cord with how I see and think of all ‘this’. It’s not about a badge or being of a clan it just living a happier life.
I’m not sure to about becoming a fully paid up member to the minimalist way of life as I like to pick and choose far too much but I have certainly benefited mentally from the idea that less is more. I guess we all do this in our own ways but it is very interesting to see others view points and learning about these patterns is fascinating to me. I also realise that the things that I once thought I “needed” are really just a distraction from working out what is important in life and to me. If only I had worked this out sooner. But like the cliché `says hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Now is the time to jettison the junk. Another lot has just sold on the famous auction site and more to go on. I really am getting into the ebaying thing and am thinking what happens when my junk comes to an end? I need to find more hahaha! But thats another thing. I am also taking sporadic pictures to remind me how I am doing with the offloading and as a reminder for the future me not to return to the bad ol’ ways. But progress is starting to get some momentum and one of the nice offshoots of selling the clutter is that when I am ready to by something new I really need, I know I will be paying cash for it, no credit will have been sought and that is such a great feeling. One that I think a lot of people have long forgotten.
Till next time..