Purge

Step one: get rid of things you don’t need.

Now, “need” is  a tricky word.  Do I need a couch?  Not while I’m traveling.  Done, away it goes.  Do I need bowls and plates?  Nope, out they go.  Big flat screen TV?  Table and chairs?  Dresser and bookcase?  Nay!  Begone, foul anchors of a static life!

Now, waitaminit… I may come back to this life eventually, right?  Won’t I just need to get a couch again?  And some plates?  And eventually a device which allows me to watch Miyazaki films whilst sitting on said couch, eating food from said plates?

Sure.  But since I’m not coming back tomorrow, or next week, or next month, I’d have to pay to store these things.  And what if, while exploring, I find something / somewhere I’d rather do and be, which is kinda the point?  Well, then I will have paid for stuff I’m not using to be stored in a place that’s not mine, only to have to pay someone to eventually remove the unused stuff and get rid of it.  Plus, aren’t there people who can use these things while I’m not using them?

All of this leads me to conclude that getting rid of everything is the sensible thing.

But wait one more time!  What about… shoes?

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Well some things would be just silly to get rid of.  Photo albums.  Tax records.  Shoes.  Don’t judge me: my size 12 feet happen to taper from gnarled and talon-like hooks at the front to rail-like wedges near the heel making finding a shoe that works for me quite an ordeal.  My shoes are precious.

I must admit to being slightly disappointed in my actual results: My dream was to get down to just what was in my backpack.  Reality: I stored around 10 boxes of stuff at my brother’s house, plus my bed which has a rather nice and expensive mattress.  Even so, the process of getting rid of stuff was pretty fantastic.  Facebook cleared out most things, a few trips to Goodwill and Salvation Army cleared out the rest.

Now I’ve got a backpack, a passport, and little else. This causes several competing reactions in me:

1.) Oh god oh god I’m homeless and unemployed. At 43. What have I done with my life?
2.) Awesome. I am free of “things”, unencumbered. I can go anywhere and do anything. I am FREE.
3.) Boy, a sandwich sounds good right about now.

Onward. The future awaits. And hopefully it waits with many interesting and exciting new sandwiches.

Midlife trippin’

Midlife.  Not a pretty thought.  This ride is halfway over.  And it’s all downhill from here.  Or rather, as your body starts to inform you on a daily basis, a steady uphill battle that you will ultimately lose.  The common refrain: “is this all there is?”

Midlife hit me slowly, creeping up over the years.  It may have actually started as early as my 20’s.  I watched friends and siblings travel the globe, explore their passions, try new things, and expand their worlds.  Meanwhile I focused on my stable, suburban life and raising my son.

Attending PTA meetings.

Earning a progressively better paycheck.

Mowing the lawn.

Flossing my teeth.

The corner of my eye was forever on the voyagers, though.  Even when I had a great job that I loved and my life was going by all measures great, I coveted the adventure.  Not the kind of adventure one does on a week long trip though.  I had vacations to some amazing places: Japan, Thailand, Mexico.  These trips were invariably great, but they were also just a vacation: a break from the pressures of life.  What I craved was something more immersive.  More fundamental.  More fulfilling.  MORE.

Then, seemingly in a blink of an eye my son graduated, became gainfully employed, moved out, and I woke up with gray hair and an empty apartment.

So, mid-life for me.  Should I buy a convertible?  Date women half my age?  What is proper protocol, after all?

After careful consideration, and weighing my standing as a fine, responsible adult, the proper response appears to be “hell with protocol”.  I’ve been thinking of traveling, learning, and exploring my passions for 2 decades or more.  I have savings and investments that will allow me to live without a paycheck for a while.  I don’t have dependents for the first time in my adult life.  And as my father succinctly explained to me: “you aren’t getting any younger”.

So: the time is now.  Time to explore.