Autumn has really begun. Leaves have started to fall and temperatures have dropped. This time of year can make me feel quite melancholic, especially now. When walking though the park in my own neighbourhood I think about how I won’t be living here anymore in a week’s time. Strange.
I walk past a homeless man sitting on a wooden bench. Soon my life will resemble his more than of any other average person. Living in a 31-year-old Volkswagen van is going to be so much less comfortable. And same as with this guy, the circumstances will get a lot more important. Rain or shine, they’re going to make a difference. Nothing to be taken for granted anymore. But the man laughs and continues his chat with two others sitting next to hem, looking like they don’t have a house either. But at least they don’t look unhappy.
Getting rid of stuff
I had made sure to have an empty working schedule three weeks prior to departure. The last few months I worked a lot, so I could surely use some time as well, I joked in advanced. What more needed to be done? Selling our stuff and packing the few bits and pieces we wanted to take with us. Okay, and buy some necessary camping gear. Wrong. The amount of preparations that still needs to be undertaken is HUGE. At this point I often ask myself whether we are going to make it. Of course, I could have known, everything always takes up more time than you think. And how annoying are these Craigslist people?!
Also, I still have no idea about what I am going to take with me in the van. Very little, that’s all I know. But how much exactly? What more precious things do I have to say goodbye to, at the very last moment? And should we or should we not get a roof box for storing stuff that we will be needing, but not all of the time?
Everything must go
And we handle it quite well, I must say. The other day we had rented a stall at the IJ-Hallen, a huge monthly flea market in Amsterdam. We piled all of the boxes onto a big cart, and wheeled it over to our little kiosk. When I saw all of it, lying there on those rough wooden planks, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Had I ever thought it would be troublesome to say goodbye to this? I felt happy about having used it, and for many things being pretty and of good quality and all, but there was also some kind of detachment going on. More and more I could look at my stuff as if it were brand new, lying somewhere in a store. Without any kind of emotional attachment or whatsoever. On top of that it was mad fun to be selling it all, for nice low prices. The last hour of the day we even gave away for free what was left, shouting all happy and excited: “People! Everything must go! It’s all free! Please take what you want!”
It’s interesting to see how much we are defined by what we own. Like if a nice teapot says something about who you are. It shows you have good taste of course, but that could just as well apply to a person without such a teapot. My own beautiful cast iron teapot is part of what we take with us, actually. I drink tea at least three times a day and it seems to me that’s one of my most precious rituals. And I’m sure I’ll be taking other things as well, that are just incomprehensible to others. What’s important is that you surround yourself only with stuff that totally makes you happy, that’s what I’m really coming to see.
Autumn has begun and leaves are falling: this is a time of letting go. Not always fun per se and it’s not easy either, but it does create room for new things. Just one more week, on to the adventure!
This article has previously been published in Dutch on 365dagensuccesvol.nl