The Mind Wanders

Please allow me to be pedantic. What is an appropriate article for a travel journal? Presently I’m not going anywhere, literally or figuratively, yet there are other parts of travel than the actual going. Preparation for travel is important for a pleasant journey, and from the audible strains heard at the luggage carousel I stride past, I’d guess packing is something people could use help with.

In September of 2000 I read something that stayed with me for the past seventeen years. In that issue of Tank Magazine, Silvia Sacco wrote “There is one who starts a journey because he wants to arrive somewhere and who, instead starts it because he wants to escape from something.” She expands this notion to infer traveler agency or a lack of it. Choosing a destination being an act of will, and escape as a reflex reaction to fear.

My path towards internal simplicity and stability will be long and fraught with peril. This may be the first journey I’ve taken on the topological extreme of wanting to arrive somewhere. How do you prepare for this kind of travel? What do you pack?

There is a natural proportion in the world, if your bag is too heavy to carry; you are carrying too much. Get a smaller bag, one without wheels, and edit its contents. Editing is creating meaning through subtraction. If you’ve managed to make meaningful mistakes, you’ve lived enough to let go of some of who you are. But what?

Start with what you need today. That’s not even twenty four hours of stuff. Make a little list of what you’ll do today and put the requisite things in your bag. If you’re honest, there will be room left in the bag. Lift the bag, nice right? How about about tomorrow though? Maybe add some extra clothes and a book, lift the bag. Still ok? Any room left? Stop. Maybe you need a sweater if it gets chilly or a backup phone charger. Maybe leave that space empty. You might find something in your travels that needs the space.

Now you know you can get though two days. Maybe your bag can hold three days and you can carry it no problem, maybe four. This is all methodological, not prescriptive. If you did edit however, there are bound to be things that you didn’t put in your bag, that you don’t need, or simply don’t fit. Some things you may need to keep, just not with you. Others may be a nice permanent loan for a friend. Many people find it difficult to throw things away, but sometimes we find things in our bag that are just not worth the space.

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