What Ebola, Mildew and moving taught me about traveling Light

In the mornings is is very damp.In the mornings it  very damp thinks the spider

This week we moved back home. Three weeks ago Suzanne and I moved out of our half of the bungalow to make room for a Liberian student to stay, or perch as they say here. Two students needed to leave Liberia before they closed its borders, and stay isolated for 21 days before they moved into the dorm.
This past Tuesday their incubation period ended, and thank God, both students were fine.  We had come to know these students from the meals we brought them from the canteen, my kitchen, or the village. We talked, counseled, and even went on walks, but all was done from a distance.
Until Tuesday morning. I congratulated them both with a heartfelt handshake and then realized this was, most likely, their first human touch in weeks. “Free at last!: He said. Free from Ebola. Free to move into the dorms. Free to hang with their friends.
Moving out wasn’t that much of a sacrifice; we moved to the Big House, roughly three times as large, and more important, it has a huge kitchen. Unfortunately, our stuff spread out, and moving back turned out to be more of a challenge than moving in had been.  It gave me an opportunity to rethink how much stuff we had.
“How do you keep stuff from mildewing?” I asked a colleague at lunch. I had noticed in the move how much of the stuff we had not used, was covered in mildew.
I’d read online about ways to control it:
 “To prevent mold and mildew in your home, you need to keep all the areas dry and moisture-free.[1]
Ashesi campus at night during the rainy season

That’s not going to happen; it is like living in a cloud during the rainy season. So I was asking around to my more seasoned and less mildewy colleagues.
The Campus in the morning
Ashesi campus in the morning during the rainy season.
“Have less stuff,” he said. Sadly, that option had never occurred to me, but then a few days later, we moved. His words haunted me. I began to take notice of what I really used, really needed.
I had already adjusted how I traveled, becoming a disciple of Rick–traveling light—Steves. Actually, I was more of a backslider who recently got saved again.
When I was younger, I knew how to travel light, but as the years and pounds accumulated, so did my tendency to travel pack-rat style, heavy and hoarding all sorts of stuff I just might need on the journey.
The sad thing was, when that need arose and I could really use that odd thing that had been weighing me down, I wouldn’t. I thought it should be saved for a real emergency. After preaching the gospel according to Rick Steves a few years ago at St. Philip’s United Methodist Church, in an actual sermon about traveling emotionally light, I began experimenting with taking less on my journeys.
Rick Steves has a packing list he uses when traveling for one week or six months. According to Rick, you’ll meet two types of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had. So on my trip, I packed light in accordance to the gospel of Rick Steves: if wasn’t on Rick’s list, it didn’t end up in Steve’s backpack.
It was wonderful, versatile and true to his word, traveling light. I am a believer. When I returned, and we moved to the big house, I thought we had done really well, it took all of 90 minutes to move out. But after three weeks in the big house, I discovered it two days to move back. Unconfined, our stuff had spread out to fill the space allowed it. So the accumulation of stuff is a function of resolve and space allowed.
So I am wondering if mildew is a gift:
If something mildews, I must not be using it.
If I’m not using it, then I must not need it.
If I don’t need it, I should give it away.
Pray for me.
[1] http://www.diffen.com/difference/Mildew_vs_Mold

4 thoughts on “What Ebola, Mildew and moving taught me about traveling Light

  1. This is a really excellent post. While Ryosuke and don’t (of course) have to worry about mildew, we are trying to free up some of our “stuff” and learn how to pack/live lighter.

    Also, I’m glad to hear your students are Ebola free!

    • Thanks Grace. Glad the mildew doesn’t worry you!
      I was channeling you Grace on the title for this entry. You are so good at giving your entries a title people can’t resist clicking on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s