The Silver Backpack

The silver backpack. And so many decisions.

The sorting and sifting-though continues.  More bags of clothing and such to charities, and more ‘thinning the herd’ of items not crucially necessary for the Journey ahead.  Though I have always lived very simply … minimally, many might say … I still find that reducing 60 years to what will fit into less than 15 square feet an incredible challenge for even the most minimal of us.  Basically, I am packing my life into a silver backpack…  

Like arranging for a long and challenging hiking trip, I must carefully calculate what will go in my “backpack”:  What clothes are needed vs those that are simply wanted? carHow many sweaters?  How many pairs of shorts? Socks? Coat or jacket? Swimsuit? What shoes? Will the sleeping bag and tent suffice for times between stops? Which water bottle; how many pens & notebooks; how will I order everything in the car so to find what I need quickly? Where can I make space for me to sleep on rainy nights when there are no campsites or kindly friends to stay with? Which one pillow – of the four I now have – will I take? And then there is the guitar.  Sadly, no room, so I must bid adieu to the strings that comforted my soul and toughened my fingertips.  Strings that created new melodies and echoed with the memories of Bob Dylan and Paul Stookey and Allison Krause. A journey such as this has its sacrifices, as well as its joys.  

But back to the packing … weight, size.  Yes, weight.  Like the 35lb pack taken on a long trail, each item must be calculated for the weight it will add and how much room it will take.  More weight = less gas mileage. Bulky items = less room.  Decisions about what to take and what to toss must be made not only based on Where-Will-I-Be-and-When, but also how it will all fit into the ‘backpack’.  Time is spent musing over whether to take the thicker blanket … which could also act as insulation on the ground when camping – or two lighter fleece ones, which are smaller & more foldable, and take up much less room … but do not insulate as well. Choices arise between cardboard boxes or the heavier – albeit, nicer – plastic bins.  And soul-touching decisions bring tears when sorting through the keepsakes of a Life lived hold … which ones can I leave behind, knowing they will live forever in my heart … and what will I take in a special little box, to be opened at quiet moments on the road when I close my eyes and smile at memories past?  

Life is sojourn … a great trail that meanders through many hills and valleys … and like a seasoned camper preparing for a long journey, every item I take is thoughtfully chosen and carefully placed in the silver.  Each item weighed … weighed by scale, and weighed by my heart. 

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3 thoughts on “The Silver Backpack

  1. Oh Catherine what an exciting time in your life! You’ve made the choice to move forward on an adventure we shall be perched waiting to hear your next post as to where the road will take you! Many Blessings to you Catherine you “Bravo” and “Fearless Princess”

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  2. my son has lived out of a backpack and no vehicle for the last 15 years. he has had an extended stay in a few places over those years, staying with friends or on friends property, a few times. he travels with his backpack, sleeping bag and tarp and a banjo, totaling about 80 lbs. I have never seen him happier than he has been over these years. He is ready to stay in one place now but we will see how long that lasts. this family from my grandfather to me to my son, have always had wanderlust, my grandfather hopped a train at 14, up in Nova Scotia and came here to the states, i spend much time hitching all over the country back in the day and moving almost every two years since, and my son, being the latest one to live life on his terms, traveling by rail all across this country and an extended time in Spain in an abandoned castle. I just know this is going to be a wonderful experience for you, like it has been for him. I am so excited that you will be allowing us to follow along your way and live vicariously through your experiences… Safe travels when you finally head out and know there are many hearts going with you, every step of the way!!

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    • Thank you so much, odankot, for sharing this. I can only imagine the hundreds of amazing stories you, your son and your grandfather have! I’m looking forward to hearing many people’s stories and weaving a few of my own in the months ahead. Thank you, once again … and so very glad you are traveling along here with me!

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