17 Reasons for Going Travel Minimalist
The Unintended Consequences of #CancerRoadTrip
This post was originally written as I was about to take off on CancerRoadTrip. But for some reason, it didn’t come over when we redid the website in late 2018. So I thought I’d share it again. It’s interesting to see my outlook here, in June 2017, as I prepare to leave all I know behind. And then to read the adventure as it unfolds.
What is a travel minimalist? You can only carry so much! And now that I’m in the final stages of packing, the ability to let go is flowing with more ease.
The most remarkable aspect of this is the freedom I am feeling. Here are some of the unintended consequences that are defining the start of this journey.
Travel Minimalist Reason #1: Hasta La Vista
“Hasta la vista, baby.”
After a wet winter, cheat grass is everywhere. Dandelions are popping up in lieu of lawn. The kale in my garden is already bolting. The good neighbor fence isn’t looking so good.
I want to leave the house looking good for the new owners, but frankly, this is partly why I’m moving on. I simply don’t want to weed, cut or clip anymore. I don’t want to paint, caulk or fuss. I want to walk the beach, swim with the Galapagos turtles and enjoy the Australian Open. Hasta la vista!
Travel Minimalist Reason #2: Say Goodby to Insurance, Utility and Property Taxes
“…but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Every year my taxes increase with no added benefit; utilities never seem to go down; and insurance never comes through when you need it. Remind me why I signed up for this life? Travel minimalist means less overhead gives me more time and more financial freedom.
Travel Minimalist Reason #3: Tempus Fugit
“Seize the day, then let it go.” -Marty Rubin
Living one moment at a time brings richness to life. As I get older, time seems to move ever faster. And as I rush into the unknown, as time counts down, the precious quality of the moment becomes everything.
Travel Minimalist Reason #4: Freedom
“Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose and commit yourself to what is best for you.”
– Paulo Coelho
Freedom comes in many forms.
There can be freedom from routine. Freedom from possessions. Freedom from dogma.
Freedom from competition was an eye opener for me. I found it fascinating that a part of me rejoiced from not being able to play competitive tennis anymore. I was actually tired of the need to compete and be measured, socially and athletically.
Both David Servan-Screiber, MD PhD and Paul Klanithi, MD commented on the painful freedom that resulted from dropping through the so called real world into cancer land. Both had to leave the social amour and status of their physician-white-coats in the waiting room, and face their diagnosis as a person and a patient, not a doctor. (See #CancerBookClub for more on this.) This unsought freedom offered both men new perspectives on their lives and on medicine.
“…through my illness, I regained a certain freedom. The obligations that had weighed me down…were swept away.” -Paul Klanithi, MD
With cancer, your standards are forced to change. The fluff falls away. What remains is so little, but so meaningful. And in this there is such great freedom.
Travel Minimalist Reason #5: Lightness of Being
“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.”
As the emotional and physical clutter falls away there is an amazing lightness of being. Soulfulness comes from the heart, and a life less cluttered lets your heart shine more.
Travel Minimalist Reason #6: Curiosity
“Curiosity is the one thing invincible in Nature.”
– Freya Stark
Unencumbered by to do lists and tasks, my curiosity comes to the forefront, to see the world with the eyes of a beginner. With fresh eyes and an open heart, new paths lead to wonder and discovery.
Travel Minimalist Reason #7: Presence
Yesterday is history,
tomorrow is a mystery,
today is a gift ,
which is why we call it the present.
Simply being present is a wonderful gift.
Travel Minimalist Reason #8: Meaningful Experiences
Collect moments, not things.
Moments of emotion and memory trump material goods. I am a collector of maps and various other things. Each material object is tied to an event or an experience. Yet the experience resides in me, not in the object. With my maps and whatnot in storage, it is only the moments that stay with me that truly matter. Do the moments outnumber the things?
We live in a world where the constant barrage of media and ads scream for attention, across multiple devices, 24/7. It’s terrifyingly easy to get caught up in the staccatos of society, to let the madness of crowds sway your path. Stop and listen to your heart, to your soul. What most matters to you? What energy do you choose to collect and carry?
Travel Minimalist Reason #9: Strength Comes In Many Forms
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
Leaning out my life, I no longer need to carry what does not suit me, practically and psychologically. It’s an iterative process, discovering this, letting go of that. This next phase of my life, I will be traveling lighter, and, I can only hope, perhaps wiser, as I cast the past to the wind.
Travel Minimalist Reason #10: Simplicity
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Clare Boothe Luce
Travel Minimalist Reason #11: Friends
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
Friends come and friends go. A few stay the course. And a few new ones walk along side, for as long as they do. One of the most interesting facets of cancer, blogging and social media is that I have formed a global network of people who “get it”. I am deeply grateful for these souls in my life. May we stay the course together.
Travel Minimalist Reason #12: Life
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.”-Henry David Thoreau
We’ve all been there. The dullness of routine, of duty, of necessity kills our soul, a day at a time. Habit and expectation guide our lives.
Is this life?
We need to see our worlds differently to choose differently. Our time is limited. What do we choose?
Travel Minimalist Reason #13: Joy
Dance Lightly With Life:
Today is your day to
dance lightly with life,
sing wild songs of adventure,
soar your spirit,
unfurl your joy.
-Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Travel Minimalist Reason #14: Stuff
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
Do I need one more pair of shorts? More than one pair of black slacks? An extra pair of yoga pants when leggings will do? Packing forces one to pare down and reconsider what is really necessary. What brings you joy? The simplicity that results from these choices is incredibly liberating.
Travel Minimalist Reason #15: Organization
“The way to find a needle in a haystack is to sit down.”
-Beryl Markham, West with the Night
I’ve been forced to stop and get very organized. Everything from how my power cords get stored to electronic integration between phones, watches, computers and cameras. There is no room for useless duplication. Everything must have a purpose. And the only way to do this is to slow down, and one by one, do what has to be done.
Travel Minimalist Reason #16: Possessions and Permanency
“If everything I possessed, vanished, suddenly, I’d be sorry.
But I value things unpossessed.
The wind, and trees, and sky and kind thoughts, much more.”
When I finished packing my books, I faced an empty bookcase and stacks of cardboard boxes. Are a stack of nondescript cardboard boxes the sum of my reading life? Can a dish pack of carefully collected plates share the stories of the dinners they hosted? And all the handbags and shoes in stacks of boxes. Will they even walk with me again?
It’s interesting that we have greater longevity and reach through our electronic existence than through the physical things we acquire. At some point, the possessions that have defined so much of my life will be scattered like dust in the wind. But the experiences shared in this blog might just live on.
Travel Minimalist Reason #17: Soulful Resonance
Find a place inside where there’s joy,
and the joy will burn out the pain.
– Joseph Campbell
Everywhere I go, I share the story of #CancerRoadTrip. And it resonates with people. Every one of us has thought of just chucking it all and walking off. Everyone of us has encountered events that set our lives on a different course. Every one of us wonders about the choices we make and the life that results. And every one of us has been touched by cancer.
Being forced to look at my own mortality; to think about what I want to do with the time I have left; being forced from my home only to find a different path–these are all choices and events that resonate with my soul. I am immensely grateful for this aspect of #CancerRoadTrip.
More Thoughts From The Road
Thoughts On The Metaphor Of A Road Trip (This post won an honorable mention from the 2018 NATJA Awards)
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What is #CancerRoadTrip and how did it come to be? Read this post to get the backstory!