What does it mean to travel lightly?
One backpack. One. One backpack for 2+ weeks in Peru, where I will be on the sun-scorched beach and in the snow-covered peaks of the Andes, sprawling in the humid rainforest in an open air cabin, huddling in tents and sleeping in un-air-conditioned hostels…. an one is all I get. How do I pack for that?! It doesn’t make sense to pack a bikini and my winter gloves, but somehow I need to be prepared for both extremes. What do I pack? What do I leave behind? What will I take with me, only to realize after 36+ hours of cars, planes and buses, that I can’t carry the weight of it?
I just read the novel Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, about her trek up the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods in Washington State. She named her hiking backpack Monster. She quickly realized she could not walk 19 miles a day in the mountains under its weight, and spent the first few weeks of her journey ditching items that weren’t 100% necessary for survival. Near the end of her journey, Cheryl realized what else she carried with her – unresolved grief over the passing of her mother – doubled the weight she carried with every step. When she let that go, her traveling became lighter.
I found this picture featuring a quote from Yogi Bajan a few months ago, and it has consumed my thoughts since then. It says: “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” (Yes, English Grammar Nerds will notice that it should say: ‘travel lightly’ and ‘live lightly’ but I actually really like the play-on-words that results from mis-using the word ‘light’ as an adverb. ‘Live Light’ and ‘Live Lightly…’ they are both excellent pieces of advice.)
Anyway, back to packing my bag for the trip of a lifetime: it’s excruciating. I want to be prepared for EVERYTHING. I keep asking questions like: but what if I NEED a cute top and skinny jeans because we stumble across a nice restaurant? But what if I NEED my hair straightener and blow dryer (never mind that we don’t have electricity in the Amazon rainforest) and what if I NEED extra supplies in my first aid kit, 6 pairs of gloves, 4 novels, 2 extra towels and 1 yoga mat? I mean, I need to be prepared for anything, right? Otherwise, won’t I feel anxious? Unprepared? Stupid for not packing the ‘right’ gear for this epic adventure in Peru? I DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN!! How do I prepare for THAT?? Reality Check: We NEVER know exactly what will happen in our future. That’s the thing about life and creation—it is constantly in motion, and it is constantly changing. We get one day…. We may get one million days.
Then I see this again:
Hmm…my job is not to be consumed with collecting all the items that will protect me from uncertainty. This only adds to my anxiety. My job is EVERY DAY, to “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.”
Boy, that sure takes the pressure off. I don’t have to be prepared for everything, I just have to be prepared to Live Light. And travel lightly on this Earth, leaving only soft imprints (which means, I guess… not carrying around a 40lb backpack, complaining with every step. But yes, I will be packing my first aid kit.)
Stay tuned for Peru updates and pictures; my Ironman and I are super excited for our adventure-vacation. (For those of you who are concerned, Russell Clive will be staying with his grandparents.)