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A Note on Traveling Light

I’ve been thinking a lot about lightness on this trek – what it means to “pack light,” and on the flip side, the things that make life heavy. Sometimes heaviness is an illusion, merely mild dehydration kicking in or the unrelenting Nepali sun waddling down your sense of strength. Sometimes though, heaviness is very much real. Did I really need to bring those knockoff North Face rainpants I got in Boudha? I doubt they’re actually waterproof because every time I pick them up the lining sheds this sketchy white dust. And what about that third camera battery, and the two pairs of extra socks, and the 340 page book I’ve barely flipped open? Sometimes heaviness manifests itself as excess, sometimes it manifests itself as a meaty turnip someone has so sneakily wedged in your pack prior to two thousand steep stone steps. The heaviest things though, I’ve found, aren’t the things in the brain of your pack, but the brain that sits on your shoulders and in between your ears. Thoughts are powerful and they play by a very different set of rules that the tangibly heavy things that weigh us down. If thoughts were more like socks I’d be able to separate the “cleans” from the “dirties” in neatly packed stuff sacks. But they aren’t – thoughts don’t launder too well. I’m on a quest to determine the “rules” of the intangibly heavy items in our lives, but for now I only have a few observations…let’s call them, “G-Dog’s Top Tips for Packing Light”.

1.) Never Forget Your PMA

That’s right folks – Positive Mental Attitude. You’ll hear it from me now and you’ll hear it from me a thousand times again. Sideways rain, bloody leech bites, and twelve hour days has nothing with you with your PMA in your pocket. When I think of PMA, I think of being on a slick ascent one thigh-high step away from my legs giving out while Vincent, one of our trusted leaders, sings, “Pain is an illusion, life is super blissful”. As horribly jolly the jingle might sound in the moment, it has a whole lot of truth to it. Life IS super blissful, but only if you choose to see it that way.

And this brings me to the second item on my packing list:

2.) Never Not Look at the Birds

This exact statement has been my Instagram bio for over a year now, but I’m only just starting to remember why I wrote it in the first place. A lot of hiking consists of looking down at your next step, planting your trekking poles, and waddling the weight of your pack from left to right and back to left again as the three, maybe four, stale and sometimes cringey thoughts cycle their way through your noggin. My remedy to this monotony and tortured thinking is to remember to always look at the birds. Sometimes this looks quite literally like sitting and watching some sparrows in a feeding frenzy, but this reminder can take many forms – thinking about sun bathing? Do it. Round three of Daal Bhaat? Do it. Not sure if you deserve a clean pair of undies? Rip those old panties off!! Enjoying yourself won’t always be a given, nor will clear skies and good company, so give yourself the space to bask in the glory of being alive.

Most of the time tips 1 and 2 allow me to move with lightness and love for the world, but those days sure do come where the heavy load of laundry in my head weighs me down. This brings me to my final item on my “living lightly” list:

3.) Tomorrow Always Comes

You’ve cracked the jokes, you’ve looked at the birds, you’ve drank a perfect 3.5 liters of water, had two perfect poops, and are still miserable. My rule for this is that life doesn’t follow any rules – roll with the punches and do so lightly. You’re human, have that tantrum. You’re not breaking down, you’re breaking open. Trust the process, because you’re exactly where you need to be. And if all else fails, just go to bed…even if it’s only 6:50 pm. Tomorrow will come, the sun will come. All is well.