If I only had N things.

It’s funny how things happen, times changes, and possessions possess. What if one had to move, a medium distance, in a relatively short amount of time, and all one could take along were what would fit in a 1997 Subaru Impreza Outback; What would you take? What about a list? Is there anything a list can’t handle? Doesn’t seem so. Personal inventory; Take one.

  1. iPhone (Consumption)

    If i had only one possession it would be my phone. Yes, my iPhone, though, it isn’t really a phone is it? It is a functionally viable cpu that fits in a pocket.  For me personally, it’s a data consumption device, it’s how i consume almost all of my media, news, information, everything. It can send and receive emails and texts from almost anywhere, and make phone calls too. It can take decent photos and post them –  and anything else that strikes a fancy – to the web. It is an prescient device.

  2. Macbook (contribution)

    If i only had two possessions, my second item would be my Macbook. If, at the heart of things, the iPhone is about data in (consumption), then the Macbook is about data out (contribution). Sometimes you got some typin’ to do. The iPhone may well be the pinnacle of consumer grade human technology, but you couldn’t type a novel on it, though sounds like great potential for interest in the idea. Sometimes you just need to zone out on Nova via Hulu, the latest of TED, some evidence of thinking via Fora, or perhaps finish up that Computer Science 106A lecture at Academic Earth. True these video content sources are about data in (consumption), but sometimes you want a luxurious thirteen inches on which to watch. The Macbook makes freelance development work possible. It makes audio recording possible. It’s a great lap warmer too.

  3. Guitar (expression)

    If i only had three possessions, my third item would be my guitar. It’s true, her and i haven’t spoken much in the past few years, but i think things will work out. For an even longer stretch of my life than my last job, my guitar has been a part of my identity. Many a sad Sunday has been comforted by thought that no matter what happens, i’m a songwriter. Sure, it may be crappy couch music, but it’s comforting to express pain. Perhaps it’s the only real cure for it. There is nothing like that eerie moment when something pops out of your mouth you didn’t know was in your head. Actually, i don’t think the music comes from inside, i think people who “write” songs actually find them.

  4. Backpack (immersion)

    If i only had four possessions, my fourth item would be my backpack. In this pack would go all the camping gear: tent, sleeping back, and assorted accoutrement. Having heard much form friends about how it’s all about the bivy sack and the sky, preferences begin to sway, but for now, it’s tent city. There is something about being outside, and it’s not really all that surprising is it? Terrible, true, but nothing like staring at a fire. Also, a strange satisfaction in gathering fire starting materials when you first arrive for that night, and particularly the next morning. When you wake, it’s all dewy, if you didn’t grab all that mossy stuff when you got there, yer back to goo. Also, something about using the energy from a fire for multiple purposes, heat, light, drying, cooking, and as art. Plus, it is the outside. The out of doors. It’s funny how the very word defines a natural state in relation to a dwelling.

It’s strange, but everything else on my list seems superfluous. Sure, clothes are a cultural requirement, but DVDs and CDs can be made digital, food can be prepared with a very small number of items – wok, spatula, bowl, and a good knife. Not sure why there sit one hundred pens and twenty pads of paper, but they must go. Along with almost everything else. Seriously, if you’re looking for some stuff, i’ve got some, and would be happy to trade some stuff for that paper currency i’ve heard so much about.

There exist other small items to be kept for emotional reasons.

  1. Guinness Mug (comfort)

    This mug has been in possession of me for years. It was a thoughtful gift from a dear friend, and it has warmed my hand with morning coffee more times than I can count. It’s moved many times with me, is just plain sexy, it’s compact, and i need something to consume liquids from so it serves my biology.

  2. Q-Tip Holder (peace)

    Remarkable how sometimes the smallest things can bring so much peace. When the bathroom sink has only a disc of soap and this round beauty sitting there, welcome to a contented exhalation. Clean surfaces, distractionless, visually harmonious, brilliant. It’s something the cats taught me. In typical cat fashion, not because they were trying to educate, but rather, it’s how they liked it. Either way, thanks Townes. Thanks Miso.

  3. Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (entertainment)

    A small assortment (one small box worth) of these rags from the seventies mostly. Short science fiction may well be the most impressive literary craft. The author has to establish an entire universe of context, introduce the actors on the stage, change them, and tell the whole thing matter-o-factly, though there are likely aliens, space travel, new technology, etc. I plan to read each of these and post photos and reviews during May.

This process begs the question, how many things should we let own us, or, should we have? What about you? What things would you keep if all you could have is what would fit in your car? I’ve got to get busy on craigslist.