I'm in the process of packing my bag, trying to figure out what to take and what to leave behind. The maximum weight for my backpack is 14 pounds, not including food and water.
This is not very much, and I will quite literally be weighing EVERYTHING that goes in. I bought a postal scale and every single item that goes in is evaluated on the basis of how much it weighs. Shorts for sleeping--what pair is the lightest? Book for journaling--what weighs the least? Deodorant and toothpaste--smallest possible size. Guidebook--will razor out the pertinent pages and leave the historical/preparation/spiritual parts behind (the book love in me is appalled, but it will save several ounces.) Solid bar soap that can be used to wash hair, clothes and body, so only have one thing instead of three to carry.
The thought of going seven weeks without anything to read made my eyes cross, so I bought an e-book reader. After agonizing for weeks over Kindle vs. Nook, I decided on the Kindle largely because it is lighter than the Nook. I am taking (not ugly) Crocs instead of Teva sandals to wear in the evening because they are lighter.
These are my not-ugly Crocs, which can also double as shower shoes.
I've already decided to take only two pairs of pants, one of which I will be wearing. Now I need to decide if I can take three short-sleeved shirts or just two. Two tank tops or three? The extras only weight 3 or 4 ounces each, but you take 4 things that weigh 4 ounces each, and you have an extra pound.
All this agonizing over every ounce makes me thing about the unnecessary stuff I carry around. Petty grievances. Old wounds. Prideful assumptions. Impatient arrogance. All of these weigh a lot, and need to be left behind.
Father Edward Hays offers this wise poem about packing for a pilgrimage. I hope I am wise enough to take its guidance to heart.
A Pilgrim’s Suitcase Psalm
O God of departures, Holy One of the Exodus,
Spirit Guardian of all roads and routes,
I am about to depart on a new adventure in life,
and my bags are packed with both dread and delight.
The old is known, comfortable, safe and secure;
the unknown is threatening and danger-filled.
O God of travelers and holy emigrants, help me:
Besides anticipation and appreciation,
What else should I pack?
Comfortable clothes of change—nothing starched—
Yes, I understand, and a change of shoes.
Comfortable hiking shoes for exploring with ease
the strange, unknown, wild lands ahead.
Yes, and also my dancing shoes so that with delight,
I can celebrate the feasts I come upon…
One dream vision as my map, and the compass of prayer
when fog hides the stars or eclipses the sun.
One medicine kit with patience tablets for delays,
dried memories for snacks along the way
and bandages for a sprained spirit after a fall.
God of departures and homecomings, may I go forth with
the adventure-hungry spirit of an explorer,
the faith of one homeward bound to you
and with you, Beloved Companion,
as my navigator and my guide.