But, while peering into the depths, I have a maddening tendency to miss the blatantly obvious mermaid frantically waving right in front of my face.
This is from my very first travel post, in May 2008:
“…about 1/2 mile down the road from the drop off I had a LONG list of the extra crap (like electric clippers) I had in my bag that I simply did NOT need! Lesson: stick to the essentials! Comfort items become uncomfortable on your back, and slow you down!”
Today I realized that there's a monumental, powerful lesson in these quickly scribbled words. One that, despite being in plain sight for 8-years, I completely missed. And, it was literally (proper use!) the very first "lesson". Even if it is one I’ve had to repeatedly be reminded of since!
It’s like clock work. First day of every trip: I find that I’ve overpacked out of the “fear” that I’ll leave something I’ll “need” behind. Then, once I’m out there, I start bitching to myself (usually) about how I’ve brought too much as the added dead-weight makes my little comfort items very uncomfortable!
That's great, Todd. But, what makes your repeated, short-bus-silliness “monumental”?
For the last few years, I've been struggling to develop a consistent, all-encompassing metaphysical philosophy, with tiny degrees of success. Finding cohesiveness in that is hard enough on its own! But I’ve also been trying to completely reconcile who I was in 2008 and 2009 with who I am now; trying to “pack everything” by tying every obscure lesson, detail, and insight from the last 8-12 years perfectly together into a very limited space, rather than just picking out the practical, useful parts and stowing the rest. I’ve been cognitively, and often emotionally, hoarding. And, completely missed the obvious connection and lesson of that very first day: "pack only what’s needed and what fits. Forget the rest!"
“But, Self! What if I ‘neeeeeeed’ it??”
"Have it sent. Or, you know, just pick it up along the way. Dumbass."
Back in 2004, when radio went Stage 4 and this massive self/species exploration began, the foundation was Thoreauian: simplify, simplify, simplify! Figure out what's real and essential. That kernel led to the backpack. And, it’s taken this long, and perhaps Mr. Mushroom Voice triggered it, to realize that people, ideas, and philosophies fall under the “Get rid of that which doesn’t fucking matter to make room for that which most certainly does” insight. And, that it's nearly identical to the one I had literally (proper use!) 15-minutes in to my travels:
“Unburden yourself from this useless shit, you silly fucker!”
It’s the precise (if slightly less profane) abstract equivalent.
|Before the "useless shit" epiphany. 60-65 pounds!|
**"Trail Magic" Diversion: I left my phone in the car and Chris graciously drove back from Denver to deliver it that first night. I was mercifully able to "unburden myself" almost immediately. Was it...The Universe? Did Jesus playfully pull my phone from my pocket? How DO they make marshmallows....
So, now I’ve begun the process of sorting out what I brought home from the last 8-years and remains useful for the next epoch's expedition. Setting my extra abstract “stuff” aside to clear room for the essentials. In this metaphor (and you should just get used to metaphors right fucking now), it’s become the process of finally separating the useful ideas, methods, and people from the warm creature comforts and incomprehensible ghosts. And letting the rest of my past’s clutter just lie. Unsorted, uncategorized, and boxed up in the closet. Although I’m sure I’ll find I’ve brought too much. Again! I can’t seem to help it.
Not everything you have can, or should, be taken on every expedition. In fact, that’s one of the main points. Nor can every idea, experience, or person tag along thru each epoch, chapter, or phase of life. And thats okay! There’s no mutual obligation to be universal or permanent. That’s growth. That’s evolution. Otherwise, you’re hoarding. And, unless you’re life is stagnant and stationary, that quickly becomes an impossible load for even Sancho’s trusty mule to carry.