When thinking to go far, travel light.
The above words have proven to me to be sound advice both spiritually, and in terms of packing boxes. One learns much of oneself when the time comes to decide what to take to keep, and what to leave behind.
As I am packing my current household up in preparation for my soon-upcoming move back to Sweden, I end up sorting my kitchenware. One of the reasons for that is that while I have lived in places with electric-plate, gas or glass-ceramic stovetops, my boyfriend’s flat has an induction stove, and thus a lot of my much-loved hard-anodized aluminium professional cookware won’t work on it. Another reason is that everyone accumulates a lot of unnecessary things while they live anywhere – and while those things are ok to drag around when you aren’t actually going very far, they are cheaper and easier to give or throw away than to ship any significant distance.
The initial conclusion that I make from surveying my little kitchen kingdom is that there are only a number of things there which are important and valuable enough to bother taking along: the beautiful though eclectic knife collection (I am not a fan of buying “a set”, I’d rather pick and choose the ones that strike my fancy), my crystal champagne flutes and hand-blown wine glasses, huge fire-engine red cast iron casserole large enough to feed ten to bursting, hand-painted Japanese bowls and rectangular sushi plates, two tea and one coffee sets, a few plates and an army of imposing face-immersing-sized coffee mugs (given to me by a friend from work a few months ago – her comment was that I’m the only one she knows who needs mugs of coffee that large). My much-adored blue-glazed Alsacian terracotta pot. My grill pan and two frying pans. A couple of soup pots that would work with induction stove. The tall postmodern crystal vase with etched dots that goes with any decor. Two steel mixing bowls and two smaller glass ones. Perhaps also my collection of glass storage jars and my four place-settings of nice cutlery, but that is about it.
Then there are the few aforementioned and much-loved cookpots which I am going to give away to a good home of my friend Sophie as they are not induction-friendly.
The rest of the things in my kitchen are transient – there are plastic boxes, rolls of greaseproof paper, and less-pretty or chipped plates, and somewhat aged cooking utensils. Things which are familiar and useful, but simply not important enough to bother dragging with me. In essense, what I plan to take along no longer looms as a “kitchen full” of things, but rather it will fill a couple of shipping boxes, perhaps as much as three, but probably not even four.
What does that tell me about myself and my life (and kitchen)? I suppose, surveying it all makes me feel content. In all my travels around the world, if I have learned one thing, it is that it is far better to have only a few amazing things (cookpots, friends, champagne flutes, shoes, clothes) than many worthless ones. That way, should I decide to walk the world again, I can take these along with me, and they are a joy, not a burden. (The only exception to the rule is books, but one can never have too many books. Ever. So the practical solution there is to store them someplace while wandering, and just retrieve them when deciding to settle, which is what I am doing.)
And, I am content with my life from a spiritual standpoint. It is important to me that my opinions and principles are compact and have no “gaps” between them, so that if and when I argue about an issue, I can feel on solid footing in what I say – conversely, I prefer to not argue if I do not feel on solid ground about a given topic, rather than argue badly. So the sorting of cookware and the packing of it mirrors my mind – “...this is why I value this item. I will polish, cherish and take it with me. This one used to be useful, but no longer applies to my circumstances – give it away, be it good advice or a lifetime-warrantied stewpot. Let someone else benefit. This other one I can live without – and is to be discarded and not wasted time or effort on.”
It does make for a smaller international-luggage shipment – and a clearer mental landscape for me to live with.