The Journey as a Metaphor

All of life is a journey really. We reach many destinations along the way and for some of us lucky ones these destinations are even geographical.  But usually our travel is through days and weeks and rooms and relationships. Inside myself I am always keeping a mental tally of everything that would  go into my two suitcases if something forced me to jump ship. Everything that is actually critical to my well being. There may come a time  when we need to pack ourselves and our metaphorical or very real luggage and move fast.  So in my life there are two sets of luggage – real things and real memories/knowledge. These luggage compartments are where we keep the most important stuff.

Autumn is when I look around and remind myself of what is important.

Zack and Whitney drove off about 5am. They lived here for a month and being  students of the culinary arts they not only cooked marvellous breakfasts and dinners but also imparted a good deal of culinary knowledge that I have folded into my own luggage to keep.  Their journey takes them home this week. How wonderful to still have family homes to return to.

whitney and zachary

Their car is packed with all they hold dear in life, except their dog who they will be collecting in a few days. Well packed luggage does not include everything you own.  To pack well for our journey through life we need to be able to throw out the baggage that is too heavy or obsolete and whittle the load down to just what we can carry comfortably,  what we need and what we must know. Storing knowledge so it is easily retrieved is a life long task.  So my journals and cooking cards need to be brought up to date.  The  baggage in our minds is possibly more important than that suitcase full of favourite books and paintings, kitchen knives and my favourite mini rubber spatula. The best way to clean out the baggage in our minds is to write it down then either burn the writings  or store them properly.  This frees up a lot of space in our short term memory banks.
pigs and nick

I have always thought autumn is a good time to have an emotional and physical spring clean. Once winter is here and it is too cold to be outside we don’t want to be locked into a small space with a whole lot of decaying mental garbage giving off its nasty noxious fumes or old stuff kept because we think we should or we paid a lot of money for it, or we might use it one day but never have.  Pass it on or throw it out.

Best to clear the decks, wipe all the walls and ceilings clean, get the windows sparkling, heave the detritus overboard and start the next leg of our life’s journey with a lightened soul and plenty of space to breathe.  This job of lightening or re-organising the cargo we carry is never ending, I need to do it at least once a year.  Room by room. Or I begin to panic at the sheer volume of things or thoughts I am carrying around.
farm machines

Nick flies back to New York on Friday. The summers work is coming to a close and my summer people will all soon be gone. There is a young Belgian film-maker coming for the second week of October  and by then I expect to have the house cleaning done, the barns and their inhabitants tidied and ready for winter lodging and the rigging and emergency stores of my life’s metaphorical life-boat, pulled out, inspected, cleaned, discarded, re-placed or re-stowed. (Though it is easier to clear out material goods than clear out  emotional garbage but it must be done.)

Autumn is the perfect time for such refection and attention.


Busy days ahead. I hope you have a lovely day.

Love celi


36 Comments on “The Journey as a Metaphor

  1. I agree that Autumn is a much better season for clean than spring. Winter is nesting time (aka hibernation time) and who want to nest in a mess! That quote should be needled pointed to a pillow someday. I have many needled pointed pillows in my head as a matter of fact.

    Is that Difficult above?

  2. Wise words indeed. We have been doing a lot of cutting back on what we have around us as we go into the refurbishment of our own home. Most pleasing!

  3. I love your idea. I think people like us that have moved several times and to several different continents find it easier to unload baggage and keep only the essentials. Being happy in oneself is the most important thing.

  4. Groan … I know I should, but I am a pack rat and I have lived in the same house for 29years … somebody is going to hate me one day 🙂 Laura

  5. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that we are doing just that this week. Passing things on, throwing things out, lightening the load. It’s therapeutic.

  6. I have been blowing through our house and storage barn all summer, getting rid of and donating items we no longer need or use. It is such a pleasing feeling to simplify. I love this idea of the mental purging and discarding. There is a person who I invested a lot of personal time and love in, and your words “paid a lot of money” really hit home. I have lamented and been angry and hurt too long about how used and fooled I felt about my generousity. This one big toxic, rotting, stinking trash bag needs to be hurled in the refuse to allow the vultures (cleansers of nature and soul) to deal with the carcass… it is really that simple, isn’t it?

  7. Hadn’t thought of it as fall cleaning of the mind. I have started that task with a few days away by myself. Lots of time to think, reboot some good habits, let poor ones fall by the way, and put some plans to paper. Love your thoughtful writing as always.

  8. That is a wonderful idea to “wipe the slates clean” and prepare for winter. I think we will start on this journey as well. Snorts and oinks dear friend. XOXO – Bacon

  9. Lovely picture of Zack and Whitney and their piggy photobombomer. The piglets are growing in leaps and bounds now. Will they go to their new homes before Poppy pops? Purging mentally and materialistically is an excellent idea.

  10. Another beautiful post, I love every word of it. Emotional clean ups are so much more difficult. I had to make space in my memory for my forever friend that I lost this summer.

  11. Your thoughts are so much like those of my dear wife. They sound very familiar. I keep checking on whether I will be grouped with the detritus that needs to go away. So far, so good. I am behaving myself.

    We traveled to Scotland last this month for nearly 3 weeks. A big part of the trip was on a barge with hiking most days. We included hiking boots and poles in each of our checked bags of carry-on size. Each of us had a backpack. Surprising how you can get by on so little stuff. Speaking of stuff, George Carlin had a great routine about packing your stuff for a trip.

  12. My ability to jump ship is always going to be hampered by my need to cart my library around with me…. I can not do without my books. When I emigrated, I brought 5 cubic metres of possessions with me, the smallest I was able to whittle things down. Probably 70% of that was books… I agree that autumn is a good time to purge and cleanse the soul as well as the home, like trees losing their leaves.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who does this! A Kindle just doesn’t do it for me. I love the physical look and feel of an actual book. And I can’t bear to throw or give away any that I enjoyed. I often enjoy re-reading them. So my collection steadily builds. I make up for it by keeping the rest of my belongings to a minimum!

      • I have a Kindle too, for travelling when I can’t haul a library along. And I don’t own a book I haven’t read at least 3 times, sometimes many more. I borrow from the library first, to see if I can live without it. If yes, I don’t buy, if no, it gets added to the bookshelves.

  13. Hello; I’m glad I’m not alone by having a suitcase packed, metaphorical or not. Perhaps it’s a kiwi thing as I too am a NZer living abroad–in England. But I was born and raised on a farm in what is now known as Hobbit Town; the central Waikato. I loved my early life on the farm and your posts remind me so much of it. I was interested to see what you wrote recently about kumara and their similarity to Japanese sweet potatoes; personally I crave yams, the type we have in NZ, which I never see anywhere else in the world. And feijoas, big time! Thanks!

    • Oh yes! feijoas and yams – my son grows Feijoas in california but yams – I forgot about those little buggers – i will do some homework. Weird how we are always ready to jump – I think NZers just love to travel! Thank you for introducing yourself Deb – where are you in England – I have lived in London, Somerset and Kent in my travels.. c

      • My partner and I moved from London about 18 months ago to a hidden corner of North Hampshire where we grow whatever we can; we are far from being experienced gardeners but the experimentation is a blast. I ferment whatever I have too much of but this year we’re gorging on squash which grew in abundance–little green gems, and uchiki kiri, which are so beautiful. There’s not a squash recipe I haven’t tried but pumpkin clafoutis is a current favourite which I make with strained goat kefir rather than with cream. Tangy and so tasty. Then there’re muffins, a variety of breads and loaves, pumpkin risotto and even squash ice-cream! This is my second stint in the Uk; I lived in London in the late 70s for several years and moved to the New Forest in the mid-80s. Santa Fe NM called and I lived there for 10 years, moving to San Francisco for another 6 until I had an opportunity to move back to Europe. I lived in Italy for 4 years and eventually found my way back to London where I lived for 12 years before moving down here to Hants. In my mind I’m living on a farm in the country (although with a busy career in classical music I don’t have time at the moment to keep animals) and working towards the day when that will become a reality somewhere warmer than the UK with a longer growing season. Your posts about your own life on the farm are so inspiring–how did you find your way there? Are you from a farming background in NZ. Seems every farmer I meet here trained in NZ!!!

  14. Just yesterday I was looking for a very important letter I had misplaced, as I was going from one area to another I realized how many books and magazines I had accumulated, after I found my letter I decided to purge some of the stuff I didn’t want or need anymore ,when I was done I felt so much better ,Now I need to purge some of the emotional baggage I have been carrying around for years. Thank you for your post today it has inspired me to clean out ALL my closets.

  15. Your words inspire me. To check my luggage. To clean my slate. To simplify my life. And to get rid of those two extra rolling pins symbolic of unnecessary items that fill the shelves and closets and weigh you down. Time to fly free.

  16. I seem to find that “the cleaning before the storm” is a sequence of events: first the gardens need to be harvested, cleaned out and mulched/ fertilized/seeded w/cover crop. Next the harvest is “put up” for the winter (canned, dehydrated, frozen…) THEN comes the deep cleaning of the house- especially the kitchen.

  17. For me it is still ‘spring’ when I do both kinds of ‘spring cleaning’ – ie, am just getting into it now . . . . yes, much I simply cannot throw out or give away belongs in the ‘book category’ . . . 🙂 !! Indeed, just filing yesterdays’ PayPal receipts, seem to have managed another three biographies to add to a smallish cottage which has totally become a library. And I would be heavy to move: paintings [modern Australian and aboriginal in my case], pottery and sculptures which simply are part of who I am . . . well, I have to sell some when I want to go a’travellin’ . . .

  18. I don’t need a season or reason, I find peace in an orderly space but probably not what would be considered uncluttered. For mental baggage I either leave the pieces on the floor and move on, file the sentimental stuff or process it into who I am. I think regardless of individual style, it’s the awareness and fit that counts.

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