“What you leave behind says as much about you as what you bring along.”
― Jacquelyn Middleton,
It is difficult to not get caught up in the excitement of how to make a new year better, especially if the year before held a lot of sad moments. Either way, it’s here. A year lies behind us and another ahead of us. Imagine that the year ahead is a trip we are preparing to take. I’m officially bestowing upon each of us a passport. 2017’s theme is Adventure. Maybe the adventure will be just in my town, or maybe you’ll be traveling to far away places. Whatever our adventures, we should make them ours and decide now what we are taking with us and, more importantly, as Middleton references, what we will be leaving behind.
If you are like many people, it’s ok that the first of the year is already here because there are a lot of last minute packers in the bunch. Thinking of my own limited travels, I take many things with me because they give me some comfort. Outside of basic clothing, here are the other things in my bags, in no particular order:
- Laptop and charger — for communicating and reading
- Camera, a couple of lenses, memory cards, batteries, charger — for documenting the adventure
- Books that I’ve been waiting to read (nothing reads quite like a real book)
- Coffee bag (manual grinder, press, heating element, cup, beans) — when coffee availability is in question
- Mail — things I know I should have gone through before leaving but ran out of time
- Fountain pen and stationery — because I love writing letters and hope I’ll have time to catch up while I’m gone
I could leave much of those things at home if I had to, I suppose, but I like bringing them with me, and I think their presence says a lot about what matters to me — communicating, documenting, and learning. Now, to think about Ford’s comment and to question what it is that I will leave behind is a little harder. A pair or two of shoes will cover most situations, and I can wear the same outfit most places. With just a few choices and a washing machine my needs are few. What do you find you must take with you when you are leaving home, even for just the day? What do you feel safe leaving behind?
Notice that when I named the things I take with me, I didn’t name things like ‘so and so’s opinion of me‘, or ‘guilt over not making my family or friends happy‘. No, I only pack the things that will be meaningful for the trip — guilt is not coming with me. When we travel into 2017, there are items that can be left behind, too. What are yours? Maybe you need to leave behind that diet you’ve been trying to make work, and instead take into the adventure a plan for making better eating choices in general. Leave behind the memories of people who have chosen to remove themselves from your life, and instead focus on the memories you’ll be making in a new year with people who value your presence.
We have friends whose home is beautifully and sparsely decorated. That’s how I picture my life in this next year: Beautiful and breathable. I still want photographs on the walls and the memories that matter, but I want to leave the right things behind. I want to enjoy the adventures ahead of me and not stay mired in the past.
Let’s take the lessons and the love that have been a part of the year before, pack them safely in our bags with lots of room for all that 2017 holds for us, and throw a dart or plan carefully — either way, 2017 is waiting for us to enjoy the journey ahead. I hope you’ll join me right here!