The strangely mellow accent of the singer Nico is playing as I write this. Earlier this evening we watched It’s a Wonderful Life and, like I do every year, I shed a few tears at the end of it. An odd phenomena: every year I watch that movie (I nearly have it memorized) and every year I know what’s coming ahead in the plot. Yet every year some tears sneak out of my eyes, despite the guard of my eyelids.
I decided to upgrade to a larger suitcase now that I’m here at home and it is an option. Also, I decided that there are more books I’d like to have along. But this same question that I encountered over a month ago is pushing me again and I have no idea how to properly answer it: How do you pack for three years? What bits of your life can you simply pick up and throw into a suitcase? That leads my mind down the track of: What is life really? It might seem like the eternal question when you first hear it, but I think a simple answer is to say that life, in its essence, is more than the sum of its parts. What is my life? Is it the fact that I breathe? Is it the fact that I am conscious? Sentient? Or is it the fact that I am able to navigate this life which is full of other people who are basically experiencing what I am? So, getting back to the original question, how do I throw my life into three bags and take it to the airport on Wednesday? Where can I put the scent of hay that has been stored in the barn or the smell of the woodsmoke drifting out of the chimney on a clear, subzero winter night? Where can I stuff my friends and the places where we used to hang out? Will those fit in the outside compartment? Ah well, there’s a lot I’m leaving here and there will be a lot that I miss, but I’m very excited to get to the airport soon. As Jack Kerouac wrote, “The road is life.”