In October of 2017, eight months following my dad’s passing, I moved to Orange County in Southern California to take a position in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry as a Proposal Manager for a firm in Costa Mesa.
I had three opportunities at the time to consider, two of which would’ve kept me in the San Francisco Bay Area – my home for the past 30 years. Although I didn’t want to leave my girlfriend Karen, we decided together that the opportunity in the OC was too good to refuse. At the time, I knew I wasn’t going to stay in the OC for a long time, and decided early on that two years was the maximum time I wanted to stay.
I looked for a way back to the Bay Area within my employer’s corporate structure and was actually made some promises in that regard, but they never materialized. When my direct supervisor became increasingly abusive toward me in his manner and tone, I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and find another job that would bring me back to both the region and the woman I love.
About two months later, I had an offer from another firm that would not only bring me back to the Bay Area but would allow me to work from a San Jose office a few days each week the rest of the time in San Francisco at the main office.
Packing Up in 30 Minutes
I’ve long maintained that moving should take no longer than 30 minutes. To clarify, I’ve never been able to pack up in less than 30 minutes, but Fumio Sasaki—writing in his book, Goodbye, Things – the New Japanese Minimalism— maintains that it’s not only possible but that he’d done it a few times.
While I staged my move from the OC back to San Jose, it did take me longer than 30 minutes to pack my car with essential belongings. Since I didn’t own many non-essential items in the first place, packing the little SUV took minimal time and I was finished packing in under an hour. The most time-consuming part was planning both the location and adequate protection for the plants I wanted to bring to San Jose.
Reviewing the Items Left Behind
Last Friday afternoon I flew south from San Jose to John Wayne International Airport in Santa Ana to spend a weekend with my 23-year-old son Jay who opted to stay behind and make his life in Southern California. As soon as I moved out, he moved into the master bedroom and freed up his smaller room for a roommate.
As I perused his stamp on the place, I reviewed the belongings I opted not to move: the new Keurig coffeemaker that my mother gave me last December, a few houseplants, my bed frame/headboard, as well as my 2000 BMW 1150GS motorcycle and its associated gear.
As I stood over each of these items and performed a Marie Kondo type assessment ritual for each, asking “does this bring me joy?”, I was hoping to find something that I truly missed. There was only one item, actually, two…a pair of Asics running shoes (no, I’m not a runner…I just like the shoes). I recall that I bought them in 2014 because they were orange and black (Go SF Giants!). I also remembered that Jay borrowed them and now, five years later, they surfaced.
I wore them on the plane home last night.
“The surprising truth is I didn’t find anything that I couldn’t live without.”
Most of Our Stuff is Non-Essential
I’d posit that 95 percent of the stuff you and I own is non-essential. I further think that you and I could pack everything that’s truly essential into our car in under 30 minutes, maybe even less.
It’s only when we are forced to (we move out, or someone moves in with us) that we admit that we have allowed too many non-essential items to creep into our homes. We then set about purging closets, drawers and entire rooms…and it feels great!
“It’s then that we realize that we have allowed all this non-essential, unimportant stuff to occupy the most second most valuable resources we have, space.”
If time is our most sacred resource, space comes in a close second.
Instead of purging to make room for more non-essential stuff, what if we didn’t just fill this empty space with more crap? What if we allowed this space to exist as a valued resource?
How much money would we save in the process?
How much less psychic stress would we endure knowing that what’s now in that closet, drawer, or room is mostly empty space?
Psst, I know the answer…and by now, I think you do as well. 🙂
*I do miss my son and dog.