An Exercise in Buddhist Ethics: Moving Across the World in Two Suitcases

To those about to monk, we salute you.

This blog has been in existence since June 5th, 2012.

And I have avoided posting on it since its inception. Done everything I could to make it through this transitive period in my life other than creating a blog post. I’ve talked to friends about my plans and ensuing emotions. I finally finished Catch-22. A Farewell to Arms has been on my shelf for 6 years – read it. I sent mass emails when I felt like sharing something witty about the move. I re-watched The Wire in its entirety, reading analysis after each of the 60 episodes. Dostoyevsky has been downloaded onto my Kindle and I have bought electronic subscriptions to The Atlantic and Newsweek. I even took to Word in a blatant mimicking attempt.

Anything has been more worth my time than starting to blog.

Until today, when packing became a top priority.

Because I leave tomorrow.

I know I should not, in theory, be attached to material goods. Nearly every religion preaches such a philosophy. And you know what? I aspire to be someone who doesn’t define themselves through things. That sounds super great. But christ, to actually try?

Furniture? Sure, give it away. It’s all cheap as shit. I probably got 47% of it for free anyway. Kitchen items? My parents have a basement, and it is the nature of basements to hold mass amounts of unused items.

But paring down my wardrobe?

Yes, I absolutely need all 11 of those scarves. What, I shouldn’t bring both of these almost identical white t-shirts? It’s like you’re asking me to choose between Ryan Gosling and Jon Hamm; they’re both perfect. Wait, I can’t bring every jacket I own?

Now I’m miserable.

Why is it so hard for me? Probably because I have put so much effort, monetary and thought-wise, into my clothes. A part of who I am, who I was, was created with every dollar spent. The only other thing that rivals the identity I have imbued to my wardrobe is the relationship I have with my books.

I’ve amassed a small library, which is currently being housed in the aforementioned basement. While it kills me that my purchased books won’t be hanging out with me in my new home, I am aware and have accepted that books are not practical traveling items.

To offset this loss, I recently got a Kindle. A girl’s gotta read, right? And at first, I felt like I was relenting some of that attachment. “Look, I don’t have a ton of books! I now own fewer things!”



I now have this small electronic device that allows me to purchase and collect MORE BOOKS. In the world of renunciation, this would be cheating. Or offsides. Or a false start, because I am still spending money and identifying with more literature, no matter how compact its packaging.

Just because I will (somehow) fit everything in 2 large suitcases, a carry-on and a purse does not make me any less attached to material items than someone who owns a home. I might be picking up and moving halfway across the world, but god forbid I can’t bring every pair of jeans I own along with me.


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