The Burden that Binds the Joy

In the summer of 2000 I traveled throughout Western Europe with only a backpack (at first).  It was glorious to be responsible for only myself and the few belongings I carried with me—I was living in the moment and not living with stuff. 

However, as the trip continued I purchased trinkets to take back home: a miniature Eiffel Tower, Venetian masks, and set of Swiss knives for a friend’s wedding gift.  Eventually, I could not carry my carefully selected wares from the world and so I resorted to buying additional luggage, a small rolling suitcase.  My backpack became a burden as I had to hunch over and tilt to create balance as I rolled the suitcase behind me.  When my suitcase could hold no more I sent a couple items by mail—often the postal costs outweighed the cost of the actual items.  

When I returned to the States I doled out the gifts that I had purchased and the few items I kept for myself stayed out for a year or two and then made their way into boxes when I got married.  The items that I gave to family members as gifts slowly made their way back to me.  Items from somebody else’s vacation—no matter how exotic—are not your own memories and so they were lovingly returned and put into boxes. The time, resources, and energy extolled to collect those trinkets was truly not worth it.  I could have enjoyed another fresh squeezed blood orange juice in a warm summer day in Florence and left the Made in China fare in the overly homogenized international corner shops.  

Truly doesn’t this become the paradox of life?  We consume items to show we have arrived at our destination—to fill up our pantries, to be prepared, to have enough, or whatever other reason we may feel entitled to pose…and then we realize these items have little value to us and the become a burden that must be dragged along side of us until we find space to pack it away…living in the moment is lost in all this drudgery and a cheap useless trinket have replaced that gift.

Have you ever felt burdened by your belongings?


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