I have just embarked on my journey to Africa for a year and I cannot tell you how humorous and frustrating my packing experience has been! Packing one year of a life into two small, easy to carry bags has been nearly impossible for this Southern California woman. One bag busting at the seams with Target’s entire toiletries aisle and the other bag overflowing with enough choice clothing for a traveling princess is an understatement. Think Legally Blonde meets Crocodile Dundee and you start to get the picture.
The night before I left, I had a few girlfriends come over to ‘cut the fat’ and make me choose between my assumed Americano ‘necessities’ such as face lotion and the true, life necessities like a tooth brush. Boy was I astonished by how much my own comforts refused to loosen their tight grip on items like ‘nail polish’ that I somehow convinced myself I simply couldn’t live without! LOL!
As my flight time neared, I really had to make the bold decisions of what I was going to live with for the next year… and it wasn’t much. I came to realize how much of this consumerist society of American excess truly weaved itself through my own psyche. I really thought I was above it! LOL…. What the hell would I do without my brand conditioner or my clean razors?!?! I almost had a conniption. I negotiated a couple mascaras and foundations, nixed the body lotion (whereby my quick, manipulative ego eased my worries since I could easily recover lotion at my first hotel stop) and went with just bare necessities. And I was devastated… DEVASTATED! Really?!?!
I’m about to go to continent full of real issues like starvation, AIDS, death, rape and child warfare and I’m freaking out about conditioner? A sober realization hit me about my false sense of foundational beliefs in the comfort and safety of PRODUCTS. If I buy this product then I won’t get an infection… If I buy this other product, my hair will be healthy and manageable. These are the “issues” that AMERICANS deal with, yet Africans have real problems. A humbling energy overcame me as I realized where I am coming from and where I am going and it was in that instant I felt honored to let go of the consumerist thought patterns that bleed through my life.
So goodbye American excess, hello African simplicity. Thank you God for all the blessings and gifts you have given me and all Americans. I pray that you awaken others to their own blessings so that they can share it with the less fortunate. I challenge all of you to go through your stuff and donate it!! Take a look at how much importance you put in the crap that clutters up your life. I urge you the next time you ‘simply can’t live without [insert product here]‘ you pass or use that money to make a difference. We are shackled by products that we mostly don’t even use! Let me know how it goes! xoxo!