A Journal of My Mid-Life Crisis
25 January 1998 - Panic and Frantic
It's about 9 p.m. Sunday night. Early Saturday morning I will be driving to San Jose, to Elliot's. Between now and then I need to move all my stuff into storage, pack for nine months on the road, do all the usual change of address stuff, make a hotel reservation in Nairobi, do my taxes, etc., etc. So how did I spend most of the day? Talking on the phone about how panicked I am and curled up trying to nap.
Actually, things are not that badly out of control. I never feel ready for anything. I shouldn't have decided to work up to the last minute, of course. I should have gotten rid of more stuff. I shouldn't have acquired so much stuff in the first place. When I gave up cataloguing my library, I was at 2750 books and then I filled at least 13 more boxes of books. Do all these books, all these CDs, all these thchotchkes, really enhance my life? And, if not, why can't I bear to get rid of some of them?
Which reminds me of a book I read recently. In The Shortest Day by Jane Langton, a Harvard vice president becomes fascinated by a list one of his ancestors wrote, cataloguing all his possessions. It's just a few things - maybe 20 or so items. The v.p. starts counting how many things he owns and it's in the thousands. This subplot is entwined with another one involving a tent city of the homeless, but it really caught my attention. How many separate items do I own? Probably on the order of 10,000. Would my ancestors be impressed or appalled?
So here I am ready to go from a world where I have 10000 things to one where everything is in one bag. Sleeping bag, thermarest pad, mosquito net, 2 viscose towels, a few changes of clothes. Definitely a different life out there on the road. Will I be able to come back to all of this stuff and not feel burdened by it?
Damn! I need another month to get ready! Help!
Copyright 1998 Miriam H. Nadel
Send comments to: email@example.com