Are stuff and things worth the weight to carry?

Categories:Life | Misc

Each week seems to bring new gear to my mailbox and with that I begin thinking of spring cleaning. Right before my move to Arizona as I was packing and started noticing that I was evaluating things based upon if I actually needed them or simply wanted them. I was leaving a life behind and had accumulated a huge amount of crap over the years. Some things were put into storage, some things sold, but a bunch of it was given away to friends or charities who could use it.

I do not consider myself to be a nomad but I have noticed that in the past 10 years I have moved a considerable amount of times and each time I end up moving more and more to each new location.

When I am thinking of buying something new or replacing something old with a newer model I ask myself these questions.

  • If I had 24 hours to pack up everything I own could I pack it all into the smallest possible method of transportation I have available to me?
  • Do I really “need” it or do I just “want” it?
  • Can what I have already last for a few more years or is it on its way out the door?
  • Does this item make sense to buy if I want to own less “stuff”?
  • Is it practical and serve a purpose?
  • Can the old item I am replacing be of use to someone else?

The process is different for each person as they come to grips with why they are uprooting their lives and embarking on a new adventure. We always hope that reasons for a life change are happy but many of us know that some times adventures can start from a tragic unplanned event. Such events may cause you to move across town, to a new state, or even begin new lives leaving your old one behind.

I would grab several boxes every few days out of my storage unit and go through them. Some of the stuff was old family keepsakes while others were full of just life. Documents, Things I had kept that had some type of connection to some event in life.

I found myself making piles of stuff and slowly putting things from those piles into boxes. As the piles got smaller and the boxes became increasingly more full I would remove the trash and the stuff to give away from the equation and make trips to the dumpster or a donation drop off. I would then take the empty boxes home or start new ones and continue the process until there were no longer piles of stuff.

Many people will fall into the depression era mindset of “I could use that someday” while others are of the throwaway and replace mindset. Both have their pros and cons, however I found myself looking at things like boxes full of papers my mom had saved that spanned my entire education Kindergarten to College. Some of the things were fun to look back at but were they really needed taking up that much room.

Many might suggest scanning all of those documents to keep while others will say trash them. If you scan them where will you store the files of each scan? Do you have the time to spend scanning in each document? Can you afford boxing them up and taking them to a service that will do it for you? Each person’s decision will be different, but for me I kept what I felt was the most important and trashed the rest.

A year later I still had a storage unit where I used to call home and a new life nearly 1300 miles away. I kept thinking that renting a storage unit was expensive and I would eventually have to go back and go through it all. Things fell into place and I did just that. When it was all said and done a completely packed 10×10 storage unit was condensed down to a dozen or so plastic tubs and two big footlockers full of stuff I was not ready to part with or was going to keep. All of that is being stored in my grandfathers machine shed where it is safe and dry for a while at least.

With thru-hiking season in full swing I tend to think like a thru-hiker and ask myself “is this item worth the weight and effort to carry it on my journey?”.

I will leave you with this parting thought. Are the physical and emotional things you carry with you on your journey of life worth the weight?

Adam Nutting relishes being an avid backpacker, hiker, and all-around adventure junkie. While he currently spends his time hiking in the backcountry of southern Arizona, he grew up in Missouri, where he was naturally inclined to spend as much time as he could outdoors. Adam’s passion for the outdoors grew as he climbed the ranks of the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts, eventually attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

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