Well, we made it to South Dakota. Even if some of our stuff didn’t.

Van Meter Move 2014 got off to a rocky start when, two days before we were to load up, Budget called to tell us our truck was cancelled. Thirty-six frantic hours later, I had located a slightly smaller truck—22’ instead of 24’—and got busy drawing up plans.

You wouldn’t think that those two feet would make that much difference in what did and did not make it onto the truck. According to my floor plan for packing, we should still have some room left over in the last few feet of truck to fit it all into.

My packing schematic--the source of no small amount of teasing from wife and friends, but a quite efficient tool, if I do say so myself.

My packing schematic–the source of no small amount of teasing from wife and friends, but a quite efficient tool, if I do say so myself.

That was before I realized some of the things I’d left off the schematic. Two dressers had been stuffed into closets beyond my consideration. Not in the plan. The basketball goal the boys’ grandparents bought them. Not in the plan. My table saw and the boys’ bicycles. My own fault for leaving those out, but still…not in the plan.

The schematic more or less worked for about 14 feet, at which point the left-outs began to show up. Five feet from the bumper, it became clear that we were not going to make it.

Looking at all the things we’d accumulated, I started to panic. How much had we paid for all this stuff? And how could we justify leaving it behind? For a few minutes, I felt like Steve Martin from “The Jerk.”

“I don’t need anything! Except this stapler…and the paddle game…and the ashtray…and the remote control…”

And these mower ramps. And the wheelbarrow. And my mountain bike…

The truth is that I don’t need any of these anymore. Our yard is too small for a riding mower. The grounds crew at DWU takes care of mulch and debris. I haven’t mountain biked in five years, not since I fell in love with road biking.

Not only did these things not fit in my trailer. They no longer fit in my life. So why would I hang onto them?

Good question. One answer is that I paid for them—earned them, in a manner of speaking. Another is that I might need them again someday. Another is that I might be able to sell them and use the cash to buy other stuff.

But, from garden tools to grudges, anything we earn can outlive its usefulness. Hanging on to old treasures are signs of living in the past, or of waiting for a past-like future. And which is more important: more cash to buy more stuff, or blessing a friend who still needs what I no longer do?

When we closed the door on the trailer, we left out a lot of things. I’m sure that time will prove that some of what we took with us is useless, and some of what we left we’ll wish we had. No matter. We got something of greater value: a lesson in releasing the past.

Don’t bring with you things you don’t need. And you need a lot less than you think.

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