By Daniel Calix – Collegiate Staff
I’ve been living out of my backpack since September 2014, with everything I own. Four shirts, three pairs of pants, two sweaters, four pairs of Merino wool underwear, six pairs of Merino socks, and one pair of shoes. All the clothes I own. It isn’t much, but it’s all the style I need.
A couple years ago I felt like I was on top of the world, I had everything I thought I wanted – all the stuff I would need to feel content. I was wrong, but not in the sense that I didn’t have enough, I had too much.
There were days I’d question why I had some of the things in my room. Why do I have these tennis rackets? Well maybe I’d want to play again. I hadn’t played since middle school, but maybe I’d pick it back up.
That’s how it went for years. I collected books, clothes, movies, toys that reminded me of my childhood, an insane amount of old school work, just in case a certain topic came up in future classes.
In 2013 I was asked to trek the Appalachian Trail – a marked trail from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. I jumped on the invite, of course I wanted to go, I’ve wanted to travel my whole life. But, what would I do with all my things? Being gone for a few days is one thing but the Appalachian Trail is months long. In the end I turned the opportunity down, my reasoning justified by the need to be responsible.
It took time but I slowly learned that being responsible wasn’t what was holding me back from dreams of traveling. It was my stuff. After a night of serious thought, I’d had enough.
I started with clothes. I took everything in my closet and drawers and dumped it into a bag to be dropped of at the Salvation Army. Everything I normally wore was already lying on the floor of my bedroom, so I had no trouble. I got rid of all of it until I could fit everything I needed into a 40-liter backpack, and the gifts that held sentimental value from my friends and family went into a 2-by-3-by-2-foot tote, stored away until I’m ready to settle down.
My views on life and death have changed. Five years ago if you asked me where I wanted to be in life I would have given you the typical spiel: a big time, nine to five job, the girl-next-door girlfriend, an amazing loft. I would have everything I wanted. Ask me now and I’ll tell you something completely different: I just want to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to have some of those things still, but I don’t strive for them. They don’t define who I am. The experiences I have with the people around me do.
I was always so busy working to afford the things I wanted that I didn’t have time for my friends. Now I always have time for them, so much time they think I don’t have a job still. They don’t completely understand why I got rid of everything, but they’re okay with it and instead of spending our days inside they’ve begun to reach out with me.
I’m leaving for Mackinac Island in a couple of weeks, and they all plan on going up with me for a little while, which surprised me. Before, they would make a fuss if I wanted to go across town and now they’re willing to go across the state with me.
Today I’m ready to go on a moments notice. No more searching for the right outfit, or scrambling to find things before needing to be somewhere. Everything I could ever need is always with me, and if I ever get invited to go on another adventure, you probably won’t know about it until you open your mailbox.