Exactly What I Needed, Right When I Needed It – Part 1

The Journey Begins

We departed before daybreak.
Our journey would take us over 500 miles from home.
Across prairies, over mountains, through valleys, and eventually to the City by the Sea.

I had yet to decipher the true meaning of this journey.
Inside me I knew this wasn’t just some vacation, an excuse to party, or some time to relax.
Something more was occurring here.
It was waiting to reveal itself to me.
I knew that in time it would.

I had packed the essentials, those things that really mattered.

Travel is one of those interesting times in life when you take stock of what’s important.
You can only bring what you can carry comfortably.

The interesting thing in life is that what you currently possess (on your person or in your hands), is literally the only thing you can possess. The rest you put in safe places and hope it’s still there when you come back for it. You rely on others, or locks, or walls, to keep it safe. But in those times you don’t posses it, you place it in trust. But what if you don’t come back for it? What then?
What if someone kicks in the lock? What if the security guard decides he doesn’t care anymore? What if the building burns down?
It’s gone. And we may mourn for it’s loss, but in the end, it’s just an object. It’s not a person. It’s not a memory (although it may trigger one). It’s not an experience. It’s just stuff. It’s atoms arranged into compounds, formed into shapes. And some of it is useful, and some of it is just and object, no true value in the great scheme of things. Plastic polymers, dead trees, mined minerals, melted sand, cotton fibres, former animals…

So what do I need? I mean really need.
Not all those wants.
I want to have four pairs of shoes, a different one for each outfit, or each adventure.
Do I need four pairs? No. I truly only need the pair on my feet.
One pair it is.

As I packed I thought of these things. Needs vs wants.
It’s not a new thought process to me.
Since I moved last year, I have striven for a minimalist lifestyle. Getting rid of possessions in waves.
Each move I remove possessions that I no longer need or use.
I still have possessions (too many in my opinion) but I’m working towards minimalism. Travelling helps.

So what’s important? What do I need?

There’s the essentials; food, water, clothes, shelter.

Well shelter is being taken care of by my amazing friends. Check.

I grab some snacks for the road. I’ll find more as I go. Check.

A water bottle is always a good idea, not only do you save money by not buying bottled water, you also make mother nature proud. Check.

Well I’m not gonna buy a new outfit when I’m there, so clothes is important.
So I pack an bunch of shirts, an extra pair of pants.
My experiences have taught me the ratios, more or less.
You can always sacrifice a shirt or two for extra underwear and socks.
There’s nothing worse when travelling than having five clean shirts, and no clean underwear.
Or having three pairs of socks but they all smell like an athletes jockstrap.
And a good pair of jeans can be worn consecutively, just change the shirt and no ones the wiser.

My recipe:
2 parts pants
1 part shorts (+/- 1 part, depending on weather)
5 parts shirts
7 parts socks
7 parts underwear
1 part shoes (optional: add 1 part sandals)
1 part sweater
1 part jacket
(Note: This includes the articles I am wearing when I embark)
Salt to taste, and serve.

So now I’m clothed. Step one is taken care of.
What’s next?

Well hygiene is important.
Now I think in essentials again.
Do I need a plethora of hair-care products? scented oils? or body butters?
Not really.

What I do need:

  • Toothbrush and paste (and floss).
  • Soap (I forgot this one, but found some great tea tree soap that doubled as shampoo).
  • Shampoo (see above).
  • Deodorant (for those shower-less stints).
  • A hair brush (To prevent my hair from becoming dreadlocks without my consent).
  • Contact solution and a backup pair of contacts (curse you myopia!).
  • Nail clippers (I learned this lesson while travelling previously and found myself with obscenely long toenails, my friend had allowed me to use her clippers for my fingernails, but toenails were strictly off limits).
  • In the past a razor was important, not so much with my current beardly ways.
    (Shaving Oil – if you haven’t tried it I recommend it, it takes a little getting used to but the amount of space you can save is amazing, a dime-sized drop of shaving oil is enough to shave an entire face, I have a 50 mL bottle that has lasted ages, partially because I rarely use it and partly because you need so little.)

    Ready to depart, with beard in hand.
    Ready to depart, with beard in hand.

The shave-less route is a good idea, firstly because you save space (more room for souvenirs) and time (more time to explore), secondly coming home with an epic travel beard is always fun (your friends reactions make it worth it).
(Note: Dear Ladies, I understand that not shaving your legs when travelling is not as much fun, coming home and showing off your leg hair growth doesn’t have the same reaction as a luscious beard does, although your friends’ reactions will still be very entertaining.)

  • A bag to conveniently store it all (after travelling with a hang-able toiletry bag, I loved the convenience so much that now I always use it).

    All the essentials in a compact case.
    All the essentials in a compact case.

Alright, hygiene is covered.
Now what?

Well I guess that covers what one needs to survive (and be clean).
Now onto the things that make life worth living.
What one needs to thrive.
Ask yourself, “What do I love doing?”
(If your answer is a person you might want to invite them along.)

So what do I love?
Music, writing (drawing, doodling, etc.) , reading, and photos.

Ok, simple stuff.

  • I pack 2 books (The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra, and a November 1984 copy of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine).
  • I pack my notebooks.

This should be simple for most people: 1 lined, 1 unlined. Me? I’m not like most people, I brought over half a dozen;
2 – 9×12 sketchbooks for drawing, 2 – 9×7 lined notebooks (one for stories, one for songs), 1 – 4×6 unlined notebook for all things profound, 1 – small sketchpad for ideas, 2 – pocket-sized notepads for thoughts on the go.
Hmmm… is this a little overkill? is my OCD acting up again? Probably, but better safe than sorry.

  • I also pack a pen, a mechanical pencil, extra leads, an eraser, and coloured pens.

(Oh gee, I hope I didn’t forget anything.)

  • I bring my laptop for publishing blog posts (which as you know, I didn’t do… until now).
  • I grab my camera (an extra battery and memory card are always good ideas).
  • I put my guitar in it’s case, along with a capo, a strap, a glass slide, a tuner, extra picks, and a harmonica.
All the necessities.
All the necessities.
Alright, I think I have everything.

(Actually I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, as I do before every journey, but anything missing can be acquired as I go.)

I finished packing about 20 minutes before departure (leave it to me to wait till the last minute).

My friend arrived.
I tossed my bag and guitar in the back next to two Persian cats. My friend was taking them to a show, the reason for her trip.
My reason on the other hand was still not totally clear.
I was looking forward to seeing my friends that I was going to visit. Reason enough for the journey.
But small signs kept telling me there was something more occurring. Those little moments of synchronicity that put my senses on alert.
I’m ready (or as ready as I’ll be).

Let’s go!

And off we went,
racing across the prairies,
winding through the mountains,
descending into the valleys,
and eventually arriving at the City by the Sea.

The City by the Sea.
The City by the Sea.

Stay tuned for part 2 – The City by the Sea (Coming Soon!)

Until then,

3 thoughts on “Exactly What I Needed, Right When I Needed It – Part 1

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