“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.” – Robin Lee Graham – Dove
I am currently in the process of culling down my possessions before I make my permanent move to Panama. Though Panamanian law says I may import up to $10,000.00 worth of household goods the biggest problem is I don’t have $10,000.00 worth of household goods. I probably don’t even have one third that amount and the question arises as to whether I want to bring them along with me, anyway.
Besides the opening quote there are two two others I’ve kept for years that address this dilemma.
“‘I’ve always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can’t afford it.’ What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of ‘security.’ And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine–and before we know it our lives are gone.
“What does a man need–really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in–and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all–in the material sense. And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
“The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it the tomb is sealed.” – Sterling Hayden – Wanderer
“If we’re really going to start a new life, we have to kill the old one. That’s why most people never really start anything new. They’re claimed by old lamps and bureaus left to them by their grandmothers.” – Betty Wilson–Away from it All
So, what do I do with those old lamps and bureaus?
My full name is Richard Staigg Philbrick. The original Richard Staigg was a fairly well-known painter, primarily or portraits and miniatures. I have a pencil sketch of his of a young girl with flowers. It’s not worth a whole lot of money. According to the web site Live Auctioneers the original oil painting of the sketch sold at auction for $425.00. While the pencil sketch has little intrinsic value it does have value as a family heirloom. But it certainly isn’t something I want to take with me. So, I will be sending it to one of my nieces. She is the last one in the family to carry the Staigg name. A few years ago when I asked her what she thought of her middle name she just shrugged. Now that she’s in college perhaps she’s better disposed of carrying on a long family tradition.
When my dad sold the family home in Orleans, on Cape Cod, built before the Revolution, he gave each of us boys a few things from the home. I received one of the few chairs that had been built in the 1800s by my mother’s relatives. Since I was working on living on boats at that time I had no use for it and gave it to my brother Gary and his family. One thing I have kept, primarily in storage for the last twenty years or so is a beautiful Reed & Barton tea pot. But what do I need it for? I rarely drink tea and when I do it’s simply made with a bag. I have decided to give it to another niece. One who has a home and children.
There are other items like those that I’m not going to take with me and I really don’t know of anyone who want or need them. What does one do with their high school year book in a situation like mine? I’ve been an avid reader all my life but in the past year or so I’ve been buying my books on-line through Audible.com and listening to them on my Ipod. I’m certainly not going to pack up the stack of books I’ve accumulated over the past few years and lug them to Panama. They’ll end up somewhere.
I love my large screen t.v. but it’s not coming with me, either. The woolen suits that I haven’t worn for years will probably end up at Goodwill, and some of them are quite expensive, too. But they were all given to me in the first place so they’re going.My bed, chest of drawers, computer desk, etc., though only a couple of years old, are staying, too.
My computer(s) of course are going but the five year old printer and scanner don’t make the cut. My small stereo/CD player is probably coming along and I definitely can’t leave my Krups espresso maker behind.
The hardest thing I’ll be leaving behind is my dog, Penny.
I got her out of a shelter 16 years ago. She’s been a good and faithful friend all these years. She’s old now and has trouble getting around. She loves her afternoon walk but she’s consigned to one speed which is very slow. When I first got her she was able to leap from the ground into the seat of my Toyota van. Now I have to lift her into the seat of my Hyundai Elantra. But she soldiers on. I don’t think she’d make the transition well at all. Fortunately my roommate loves her and has agreed to care for her in her last years.
In the last couple of days I’ve donated a ton of clothing to several charitable organizations. Eight very expensive suits that were all given to me. Some I never wore and the others I haven’t worn for at least five years. They were simply taking up space in the closet. Today I got rid of more than a dozen dress shirts, slacks and sweat suits.There’s absolutely no reason to bring them with me. After all, if I need to replace something I might have given away they sell clothes in Panama, too.
The last thing I need to get rid of is my Boston Whaler. The money I get from selling it will build my houseboat in Panama.
It’s a Revenge model. Very rare and a scary fast boat. My friend, Stephen, got stopped in the Intracoastal one day and clocked doing 44 mph. If anyone reading this is interested, I’m asking $10,850. Fully titled and including trailer.
3 responses to “What to Bring to Panama”
It’s sad that you are having to leave your dog behind, but lucky that there is someone to care for her. I will likely have my old dog put down in a month or so. She has cancer and is starting to fail. We managed to bring her back from a stroke about five years ago so she did have some good years. She was my husband’s dog and I’m glad, at least, that he isn’t around for this. She was one of his favorite dogs of all time.
When we moved out of the house into the travel trailer, we had to just pack a move a bunch of stuff that we should have pitched. It was stored in a shed for three years. I’ve now had to move it yet again without the time to really go through it. When I finally get all this stuff in one spot, I am looking forward to really paring it down. At one point, I was trying to figure out a way to get everything I owned into seven trucks. I’d still like to do that, maybe when we move into the Aqua Home.
I told my roommate that if Penny simply dies to bury her underneath the banyan tree in the back yard. But if her health spirals downhill but she’s still hanging on to call me and I’ll come up from Panama and put her down. It’s for me to do, not him.
For the moment, though, she’s in decent shape for an 18 year old dog. She’s slow. Only one forward speed and you can’t make her go one bit faster no matter what. But every day around 4 in the afternoon she wants to go for her walk. It’s down to just one trip around the block. That’s all she can manage, but she looks forward to it and wants to go rain or shine. But it doesn’t happen in the rain.
As for getting rid of the accumulated detritus of life I recently read a good comment. Put your hand on an item and ask yourself, “Do I really love this?” If the answer isn’t in the affirmative then out it goes.
Another good rule of thumb, and I should have lived by it myself is: if you haven’t used something in the last year then you’re just as well off without it.
Thankfully I was faced with the Pare Down situation a few years ago. My wife divorced me, left me butt deep in debt, and basically bankrupt. Luckily I got a fantastic job on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific that let me pay off 50K in debt in the 2 years of my contract. But I was only allowed to ship 500 lbs of “household goods” – figure a crate 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft. I too had to leave behind a beloved companion – a cat – but found her a home.
I left behind all furniture, except for two plastic 3-drawer storage boxes. Also left behind with a friend a box of sweaters and a couple other boxes of personal paper and miscellaneous items. I did take my footlocker full of Personal Chef equipment (which came in real handy). Took far too many long sleeves shirts and long pants, and my already vastly pared down to about a hundred volumes library (another very handy choice). Also my musical instruments (mountain dulcimers) and computer with laser printer. Since coming back to The States in early 2007 I haven’t accumulated very much more except clothes suitable for the tropics. I’ll bet my personal property still is under 500 pounds.