While having a casual conversation with a friend one day, they where waxing about my luck in being able to travel the world for business as I regularly do. An epiphany moment struck me when the conversation turned to the question of how many days I spent a year on the road. Well let’s just say after thinking about it for a minute, the number surprised me as I’ve never looked at this way (being on the run masks a lot of things). However it wasn’t the plain realization of the time spent away which created the “epiphany”, it was the fact that I have done this for over a decade out of one suitcase.
It should be noted, this suitcase is just not any “suitcase” it’s a carry-on (professionals don’t check baggage) by airline standards meaning my life is carried around the world in a 22″ tall by 14″ wide and 9″ deep box. The epiphany was how little I really needed to actually live anywhere in the world, as I could fit all my needs into a mere 45 or so linear inches. A size small enough to fit into most airplane overheads, yet large enough to carry all the things required to live my life anywhere I might be.
It wasn’t the small size which struck me, it was how little one needed to live their life. While yes, I have a modest sized home a number of large closets full of clothes, a garage packed with tools and so on. However I didn’t take these things with me nor was I home to really use them, why did I need them? It was here, the George Clooney movie “Up In The Air” crept back into my mind as in the story line, George did a piece called “What’s in your backpack?“.
In his spiel he would start with a heavily loaded backpack mainly filled with emotional baggage supported by personal property, than he would start “unloading” it in front of his audience. This was an underflow supporting the main story line where George’s character lived in a minimalist manner off the preverbal land much like a modern day urban mountain man. So do we need all the things we “own“? As I’ve grown older, it became clear that people can’t own “things” as the “things” own them [the people who buy them]. Things limit people’s motions, as the more “things” one posses, the harder it is for one to be flexible, as their time is no longer their own. They have to fix things when they break, store things when not in use, wash things when soiled, or just move “things” around as they do. The list keeps going, however the message is clear.
How did we end up with so many things we don’t need? Could it be as a society, we are creating a negative viral proposition via outlets like QVC, HSN along with many, many others peddling vast amount of commodity goods? Hey how many Elvis dolls or potato peelers do we need? What about those in-egg scramblers, or the moose who poops M&M’s? It is here is where we start bleeding off our socio-economic effluence on not only things which do not return value commensurate with the value exchanged for the product. Then there is the sheer volume of products Americans purchase which again do not return value in line with the value paid adding to the overall erosion loop.
In summary the message should be “less is more“, as Americas consumerism is reaching a point of redefinition forced by declines in earned income. As the general concept for growth will move away from goods which fail to return value or build social effluence to those products which provides positive (building) values. Also as your thinking about this, think about “what’s in your suitcase” and if doesn’t fit, do you really need it?