2017 was when my step got lighter. I had been walking with heaviness, but my perspective was changing and the art of walking with lightness became right in so many ways.
When I discovered the concept of “Ultralight backpacking” I was fascinated by one who practiced this that sawed his toothbrush in half to save 2 grams of weight in his pack. When I began sawing my own toothbrush my friends shaked their heads looking at me doubtfully. But what I saw that they didn’t was the principle behind it: to cut things in half, to diet the pack, to change into lighter equipment and remove unnecessary things. A toothbrush cut in half was quite an important symbol.
Already last year I reached a very light pack. With tent, sleeping bag, camping mattress, clothes for rain, clothes, food, water and tools it still didn’t go beyond 12 kilos of weight. I compare this with the pack I carried in Portugal 2013 that was ten kilos heavier. And since then my pack have even got 2 kilos lighter.
A life of lightness
Towards the end of 2017 I was still searching Google for websites that would show me more ways of radically cutting down on weight. But I was sensing that I was now also looking for something else. What had been a strive for the lightest equipment had now become a strive for a lighter life. Now I would consider the comfort of the equipment in comparison to the weight. An example: I could see that I would prefer to have a light toiletry bag (80 grams) instead of a plastic bag with a zip lock. The toiletry bag would offer me order and comfort that was important to me.
The reason behind this change of perspective was due to a change in what I wanted in life. I had started to see myself live a whole life only from what I could own in one bag.
I was partially inspired by those that called themselves digital nomads, they seemed to live materially light but still a life full of richness. But mainly it was my meditation that inspired me the most, it made me lighter for each passing day but still it would fill me up with life itself. I was realizing that owning many things wasn’t that nice.
Something that had started out as a fascination for light equipment for hiking had developed into a search for the best equipment for a life of lightness.
An obvious question that now is circulating inside of me: What is really essential? The philosopher might want me to give a deep intellectual talk about this, but the answers that arises are not of that kind. Rather they are of this kind:
A suspendable soap caddy
The reason for why it is in my pack: A hard soap can not leak, it will not be taken from you in customs, you can easily find one that is made of few, pure and organic ingredients. You can wash both hair and body with a soap like that and get wonderful results. The caddy will protect both the soap and other equipment from each other, work as a “refill bottle”, let through all extra water, and it can even be hung up anywhere: be it a luxury hotel or a twig in the forest. I wouldn’t be surprised if this little thing comes along for the rest of my life.
On the path towards lightness
Slowly I am becoming more light. And it is a wonderful feeling to not own a lot. And on the same journey I enjoy the material life a lot. Because I love smart things. It might sound paradoxical. But it does make a lot of sense to me. Nothing else is needed.