Here is what I packed for a four day trip to NYC and DC: underwear, toothbrush, contact lenses, hair gel, notebook, a flash drive with the presentations I had to give, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I did not bring my computer. I brought no clothes other than the underwear and what I wore on the plane. I considered leaving the 3.5 ounce tube of gel at home by loading up my hair with enough to last through the trip, but that seemed a bit unsanitary for NYC, where all manner of detritus fly around at hair level waiting for some gel to stick to.

Yes, I am the person George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air wanted to be behind in the airport security line: I pack light, travel efficiently and have a thing for slip on shoes.

Despite Clooney’s stereotyping, it’s not because I’m Asian. It’s because I have enough experience with four day work trips to NYC and DC to know all the things I don’t need. That made for a very light bag.

At the same time, I wanted to get lost and wander a bit. I wanted to not know the top ten Yelp-rated restaurants within a .2 mile radius. I wanted to not know how to get somewhere. I wanted to have no idea that a klezmer-polka accordion showdown was going down in a Williamsburg loft/art space that night. So I left my iPhone at home. That made for an even lighter bag, and a readiness to stumble into the unexpected.

One day one, I got on the wrong train and ended up eating roasted pork bone ramen in Queens. On day two, without workout clothes, I discovered naked pushups and squats (its…breezy). On day three, I unexpectedly ran into an old friend on the street in Brooklyn. Every day, I was on time to all my meetings since I had no way to text “5 min away.” It was a great trip.

So great that it made me think about travelling light generally, in life. The older we get, the more we tend to accumulate, both materially and psychologically. But it should be the other way around, shouldn’t it? The more experience we have in life, the more we know about what we don’t need. We should be travelling lighter with each year.

The habit of de-accumulating isn’t an easy habit to form, especially this time of year, when everything is encouraging you to buy, buy, buy. But December can also be the month to get a running start into 2013, making this a good time to ask, what are all the things you don’t need, and can let go of in the new year?  It can be modest (an armload of clothes you know you’ll not wear again) or massive (a sense of inadequacy when you know you’re sufficient). It can be some dear old thing you’ve held on to for a very, very long time: a grudge; someone else’s idea of who you are; your anger at really shitty stuff that happened when you were much younger and a tender shoot of a thing.

The thing is, you know a ton more today than you did even a year ago. Dip into that big vat of knowledge, and ask yourself: in light of all new stuff I now know, what can I let go of and leave behind for 2013? For the hard stuff, be bolstered by Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost: The art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss.

Or better, by Anais Nin: Anything I cannot transform into something marvelous, I let go.

At queerfit, we already have a travel light ethos.  It comes from knowing what we don’t need to get stronger and more mobile – specifically, 60 minute stints on the elliptical machine or expensive gym memberships.

Come travel light with us, in the little park on the Inman Park side of the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station, where we will make clear that travelling light does not mean working out light. The sandbags are here…be prepared…see y’all tomorrow!