…and other lessons in abandoning material possessions to reach the trail’s end.
You’ve heard the stories (and perhaps played the computer game?): Wild-minded risk-takers threw caution to the wind, kissed their hometowns goodbye, buttoned up canvas awnings, and wobbled their wagon frames across the plains and prairies and mountain passes of rugged North America.
They’d heard of the Willamette Valley. A land of fertile soils and ripe possibilities. A new way of life for those who dared risk it all to reach the goal.
Oregon sang a siren’s song, and the adventurous were drawn to come.
What happened to the possessions unable to be jammed into tight corners of the settlers’ prairie schooners? Who gave them a new home? The in-laws? Dear friends? Neighbors remaining on the east coast?
How many valued pieces of sentiment and function remained in Missouri, I wonder? How many more soared over the side of wagons, perhaps accompanied by tears and sweat?
How did their meaning shift from top-priority-packables in a 4’x12′ bed to dead weight no longer carried by weary oxen?
I imagine a couple discussing the reasons for adding goods to the packing pile: “It’ll be useful for our new life at the end of the journey… We won’t be able to buy another one… It’ll be a reminder of our loved ones…”
But a thousand miles in, I imagine the conversation shifting to practicality in the face of survival. Health trumped comfort. Determination trumped desire. Reality trumped fantasy.
Now, a hundred and some odd years later, it’s our turn to grit our teeth, sort through artifacts of settled life, and part with all but the household basics and the dearly cherished. And I still suspect we’ll need to chuck a few more items over the edge when all is said and done…
We’re clearing out our house before we pack up and leave to travel the world. Furniture, books, clothes, tools, odds and ends…everything* that doesn’t fit in a backpack!
(*not really everything. but sort of.)
Saturday, October 29th: 9am-noon
The Corner of East Burnside + 92nd Place:
9205 E. Burnside Street #201
Portland, OR 97216