A few years ago I bought two maps, one was a detailed street atlas of Vienna, and the other was a big, fold-out map of Lower Austria. The street atlas I have used every visit. The fold-out map? Never.
But still, I have always brought it with me.
I think the museum would be happy
Since visiting the mini-storage museum exhibit a couple of days ago, I have had one of the displays on continuous loop. It’s the one where the guy without a home says that “Ownership is an outdated concept,” and follows it up with something like “What matters is use, not ownership.”
This was the iron law I laid down in 2012 when we downsized. If a thing had not been used in the past six months, it was thrown away, wherever “away” is.
But this idea that possession is an outdated concept is pretty interesting, especially since we live amidst such a surfeit of things. Do you need to own anything? And if you do, once you pair it with the concept of actual use, how tiny is that universe of possessions going to ultimately be?
The mark of a wonderful museum exhibit is that it leaves you with unfermented ideas bouncing around in your head for days, soaking up juices in the boiling, roiling kneading-trough of thought.
In my own mind, the lightness of my travels is legendary. Ten days in Europe with one tiny backpack. And I don’t even smell bad yet, much.
But one of my travel companions is that map of Lower Austria, and when I think about leaving it here in the flat for someone who might actually use it, it makes me happysad. Happy because I’ll be going home with one less thing, wherever home is. Sad because while I was here I acquired a book, and back home I have about fifty or maybe sixty unread books, and this will make 51. Or 61.
The solution is to go home and get rid of all the unread books. Most of them have been on the coffee table for 2-3 years. It physically hurts to think of donating away an unread book that I actually plan to read, kind of like tossing a pair of arm warmers that I know I may need for that one day when, after ten cold days in a row and no time to do laundry, I actually need that one pair.
Which leads to another problem, the problem of bicycle clothing and bicycle things.
I have one drawer with all my arm warmers, leg warmers, and similar items. Few of them would ever survive the six-month rule.
And then of course the rhino in the room, my tool bag. Of all the people who don’t use tools, I am he, with ten thumbs and blind.
Oh, and there is the closet shelf with the nine unread Japanese books in the series Sangoku-Shi. And the t-shirt drawer and the extra safety razor.
And the …