or: the curse of too much stuff.

Recently, I've become a journalist. For this job I get to visit companies and go to press conferences and seminars and such. While these deal with very different subjects, they also have something in common: the people who organize them want to be nice to journalists. So they give them presents. Lots of presents. Large and expensive ones. Is this a problem? Yes it is. You see, I live in a small one room appartment. I have got everything I need. Not everything I want, I admit, but everything I need. I do not need two (count them: two) identical pieces of Bohemian glass art, crystal wine glasses that can contain half a litre of wine each or, for that matter, a small green statue of a bear made out of recycled plastic. Not even if it's designed by an actual artist.

While this is a problem that has recently developed, it increases a problem I already had: the problem of too much stuff. Maybe you recognize it: all those clothes that you never wear anymore but are too good to just throw away, those cosmetic products that you wanted to try and that turned out not to be too great, the presents your parents gave you that are not quite your taste but they were so proud of them...
My closets are filled with stuff like that. These things cannot just be thrown away, because they might come in handy later. Or because the people who gave them to you would be hurt. Or because there are good memories attached to them. Some time ago I took a course in ceramics where I had lots of fun making cups and bowls and works of 'art'. Now I am left with a stack full of things that turned out nice. But not nice enough to give away... and not practical enough to use... Darn.

Each time I move I try to throw away the things that I have not looked at since the last time I moved. Each time the amount of boxes that I can fill amazes me again. And each time I move to a bigger place that can be filled with more clutter. This vision I have of travelling light, without all this matter that I do not truly need,. might just stay that: an unobtainable vision.

(Travelling light, by the way, is a reference to a very nice Tindersticks song)

It was a really weird time in my life. I had spent the past year in hell with a girl, and she was having trouble with my refusing to put up with her insanity any longer. One of my oldest closest friends had come back after a long time. We came to the realisation that we hated each other. The entire world seemed to be against me.

I spent a lot of time in my parents living room, drinking whiskey. I was the music critic for the univerity newspaper at the time, and one of the albums I had been given was Donkeys, a collection of rarities and b-sides by Tindersticks. I wasn't a fan of the band, but I found myself putting the CD on repeat for days on end. Travelling Light was the one song I particularly associate with those times. It's a beautiful duet with some amazing strings. Plus, it had one lyric that seemed to be aimed directly at me -

"Everything you've done
You say you can justify"

Travelling Light

(Normal text : Stuart, italicised text : Carla)

There are places I don't remember
There are times and days, they mean nothing to me
I've been looking through some of them old pictures
They don't serve to jog my memory

I'm not waking in the morning, staring at the walls these days
I'm not getting out the boxes, spread all over the floor
I've been looking through some of them old pictures
Those faces they mean nothing to me no more

I travel light
You travel light
Everything I've done
You say you can justify,
mmm you travel light

I can't pick them out, I can't put them in these sad old bags
Some things you have to lose along the way
Times are hard, I'll only pick them out, wish I was going back
Times are good, you'll be glad you ran away

Do you remember, how much you loved me?
You say you have no room in that thick old head

Well it comes with the hurt and the guilt, and the memories
If I had to take them with me I would never get from my bed
There's a crack in the roof where the rain pours through
That's the place you always decide to sit
Yeah I know I'm there for hours, the water running down my face
Do you really think you keep it all that well hid?

No but I travel light
You don't travel light
Everything I've done
It's just a lie, you don't travel light

I'm travelling light
No you don't travel light
I'm travelling light
No, no, you don't travel light
I'm travelling light
You don't travel light

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