life lesson #32: you can't pack everything

greetings from the beautiful Pacific Northwest! I'm currently road tripping through Washington and Oregon with my parents and brother, but popping in because it's become a bit of a birthday tradition to post something around this date. while this blog is turning 5 years old next week [holy cow has it really been that long?] I myself am turning 32 today [I'm not sure how that one happened either.]

I always end up posting something wierd. like musings on vintage poems I found in my Grandma's old diary, blurry selfies and gummy bear photos from Taroko, announcing I need a blog break, or just making a list because that's what Jamies do best.

through the process of getting ready to head back to America for summer [and now that I'm on a 3 week road trip] I've been thinking a lot about packing and pre-travel anxiety, and about the things we have to leave behind. for almost 5 years I've been doing this strange split life. making a home in Taiwan, then leaving for a month or two each summer. trying to spend the school year sorting out what it is I want to do with my time, making a list of what I want to accomplish... and then panicking each year before I leave at all that is left undone.

this year, my to-do list that did-not is longer than ever. I spent last March through May adjusting to new food restrictions, then June and July traveling Europe and Asia. August through October I was wretchedly ill and trying to figure out why, and November through March were all about recovering and rebuilding. and now... it's already April and I'm another year older. some days it feels like a wasted year.

but as much as I fear that might be true, I know that it isn't. the work I've done this year was not what I planned, but that doesn't make it worthless. the things that I left undone, maybe weren't meant for me to finish.

a few weeks ago Lauren shared a quote on instagram that has been rattling around in my mind:

"maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. maybe it's about unbecoming everything that isn't really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place."

to me - that means sometimes there are things we have to leave behind. as we ramble along in this life, we bump into things. sometimes they are hard things, and it hurts. sometimes it breaks off a little piece of who are are - and we have to let go of it to move forward. as much as you may sometimes want to, you can't take it with you. there's not room to carry it all.

both litererally and metaphorically: you can't pack everything.

sometimes you write out your packing list months in advance. you consult friends and online packing guides. you update and edit as the departure draws near, shifting your list for the weather and planned activities. you text your BFF asking for advice. you color coordinate everything to work together. and then you neatly fold it all and set it in your suitcase a week in advance.

and still, 5 minutes before the car arrives to take you to the airport, you find yourself chucking things out because you're over weight and out of space.

it doesn't matter where you're going or how long you'll be there. it happens to me every single time, no mater what. the realization that: you can't pack everything.

your husband tries to reassure you that he can bring anything you need later, or you can just buy it when you get there. [little does he know that the nearest Target to SeaTac will be extremely picked over, and your dad has an itinerary to stick to - which does not involve detouring to a mall - so you'll go 3 days without being able to find any warm leggings and freeze your bum off in the meantime.]

but at least said husband will make sure you bring your hat, even though you don't want to, because it will save you from frostbite. and at least said dad will let you make two stops in sporting stores when driving from Port Townsend to Forks, until you find some pants appropriate for 40 degree weather. and you'll end up wearing both of them pretty much non stop, because the Olympic Peninsula is gorgeous but freezing [at least compared to Taiwan.]

sometimes, to shed our skin and grow, we have to encounter something rough. I'm pretty sure that when I slipped on some driftwood and banged up my shin from knee to ankle the other day, I left a significant piece of myself on Ruby Beach. not to mention the photos I missed out on when my camera battery died 2 seconds later because my [fully charged] spare was sitting a 30 minute drive away in our airbnb.

but. despite the bruises and the battery, an hour later I was climbing back on the driftwood of another beach, smiling and taking photos of scenery just as beautiful.

I could lie and tell you that at 32, I've got it all figured out and my life lessons learned. but I don't. to be completely honest - I doubt that will ever happen. but I can say that I feel at least a little bit wiser, and the whole not knowing thing bothers me less than it used to.

and I suppose if the last year has taught me anything [or even just the last week] it would be this: you can't pack everything, but sometimes what you leave behind... isn't really necessary.

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