My favorite way to decompress at the end of a long day is by preparing a delicious and healthy dinner. This process is made soothing and enjoyable due to many modern kitchen tools, but none so much as my knife. It is babydoll pink, modern in shape, and it makes people chuckle when they see it. It’s lightweight, a chef’s knife, and was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. It feels at home in my hand, like an extension of myself. It comes backpacking in the wilderness with me, an essential along with my headlamp and first aid kit. More than once I’ve brought it in my purse to a dinner party, knowing I might be called on for last minute crudite chopping. I’m protective of my knife; worried about rust and dulling from misuse.
When the Llama and I shut the door on our rental home in Oregon we carried everything we wanted for our Connecticut wedding in addition to everything we needed for our impending move to Chile. Of course the knife came with us.
We sold our cars and couch, our bed and bedside tables. Letting go became more complicated when getting rid of books, some with notes from high school handwritten in the margins. I feigned nonchalance at discarding concert tee-shirts from college, mostly occupying shelves as memories. I gave away things that I had accumulated on travels or as gifts, everything carrying layered meanings and associations that their new owners would never know.
Getting rid of belongings hasn’t always been a strength of mine. But eight years of dorm life from prep school to college meant becoming accustomed to an annual purge associated with upgrade, a look forward, and reinvention. I learned to trust in the Law of Abundance, letting go of things I thought I needed and trusting that other things would fill their place. I’ve been lucky that way.
Backpacking in the wilderness was excellent practice in packing minimally to be happy and comfortable. I learned quickly how some materials and items would dry and hold shape and air out easily, while others could only be worn once before washing and drying. Choosing items to serve multiple purposes has become habit, and clothes that were cute but impractical or poorly made were sold, given away, or donated when I left the States.
Sweatpants, gone. (Yoga pants stay.)
Skirts and pants worn a few times a year? Gone.
Tops and dresses that have to be washed after every wear, gone.
Packing wasn’t fun. I procrastinated looking through drawers of belongings that I had accumulated and needed to sort, knowing that most of it wouldn’t make it to my next phase in life. But since then have I thought of those items I spent afternoons fussing over? No.
Sometimes I miss my garlic press, but I’m pretty skilled at mincing with my knife. I went without a vegetable peeler for a few months because mostly my knife does the trick. As I prep meals it cuts through sturdy carrots, tough jibia and silky palta, breaks seals on tough-to-open glass jars, and was even used to change guitar strings last weekend.
I’ve learned that there are very few things in life that I simply can’t do without. My knife is one of them. What about you?