Leave the “options” at home
On any trip where I have thought “I can’t decide which, so I’ll just bring both, and then I’ll have options!”… the same thing happens…I use far less than I brought and regret the weight of the excess baggage (scarves, shirts, pants, shoes, socks, earrings, books, bags). I believe this has to do with wanting to feel prepared when faced with the unknown, covering up a nervousness or lack of control with more stuff in the pack... as if having two scarves instead of one will help me better navigate the challenges of international travel.
As I have experimented with whittling away the options, I try to pack with the following mindset:
Bring the least amount of the most versatile and necessary items, and leave the options at home.
I want to remember the experiences of traveling more than what I was wearing, which book I was reading, or which bag I carried. Having a lighter pack means an ease of travel that lends itself to having more opportunities to say "yes!" and diving headlong into adventure.
In fact, I have even begun to leave the books behind and to strive to hear the stories of my fellow travelers, and be more fully engaged in the creation of my own.
So let's apply this packing list strategy to everyday living:
What are the unneccessary options, or areas of clutter, in your life?
From a tangible perspective, are we filling our homes, bellies, and shopping carts with options that distract from rather than add to our enjoyment of life? And are we seeking out these items to soothe the discomfort of navigating the unknown, to lend some false sense of control, to manage the way we appear to others...
From the perspective of our time, how often are we saying yes to all of the opportunities offered to us, and therefore not fully experiencing any of them? FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) can become an overwhelming anxiety, or maybe it’s the fear of disappointing others that becomes our primary motivation. And yet, we can feel the difference when someone is not present with us, when half of their mind is on to the next task. How often are we ourselves listening with our hearts and resisting the temptation to begin formulating our next response (in order to maintain some sense of control over the conversation, or control over how we are perceived by others)? How much space do we give others to finish their thoughts before interrupting, looking at our phones, or “multitasking” in some other way...
It feels risky to commit to only one activity, one pair of pants, one option… It may be that in simplifying the clutter, we find life has more depth to offer than we are currently making space for.
Close the social media app and listen to the stories around you. Put down the selfie stick and gift your smile to someone who can actually receive it. Commit to one fleece for the whole trip, and enjoy the ease of traveling with a lighter pack. Save your decision-making-energy for which adventure to say yes to, rather than which outfit to wear. And maybe, at the core of all of this, practice getting a little more comfortable sitting with the unknown and trusting your capability to not only survive, but to thrive (especially if you have a repair kit and the knowledge of how to use it.)