Even as a child, I wanted to be a minimalist traveler. I fantasized about living in the wild, like in My Side of the Mountain. On long car trips, staring out the window, I’d evaluate the deep woods or abandoned shacks, looking for the ideal place to start my new life. I wondered what it’d be like to catch my own food, what I’d need to bring with me for warmth at night that would be easy to carry, if toothpaste would be one of the trappings of civilization that I’d maintain.
I wanted to be a sailor, a child who went to boarding school, or a British naturalist with great luggage. I tried to engineer sustainable pod living like the Professor Sherman in 21 Balloons. Sailors worried a lot about scurvy, so I made sure to bring plenty of oranges into my small fort.
Part of the reason I love to travel everything-in-one-bag style is that I can easily leave everything behind me. The less I have, the easier it will be for me to change my identity and location like James Bond. Or Jason Bourne.
Now I have the Internet on my phone that gives me supplementary information about my environment (and knows where I am), a wonderful partner, and a job. I have wine glasses, a bookshelf, running shoes, magazine subscriptions, a pet cat, and lots of cool pens and notebooks- all things I don’t really need. Trappings of civilization.
Buying things and committing to them, not to mention committing to a person, means I’ve decided I’m going to consciously define myself and stay in one place. This is difficult, as I want to move somewhere else about every six months, go back to zero, start fresh.
But all this looking ahead or away has prevented me from enjoying what I have. Imagination and focus on the future isn’t useful when it’s not used to make my present better or devise realistic goals for myself. I’m afraid to believe here and now, and instead make things up because I can trust a world I can manipulate in my mind.
Instead of struggling for basics like I would if I were starting over, I must focus on now. I have a stable platform from which I can devote myself to the task of filling my brain full of information and skills that I can use to provide value to others in exchange for money. Because money is freedom. And until I’m location independent, I’ll try to be happy right here.