The Backpack

My Camino walk was the first time I backpacked, it was an interesting experience. I did not know what type of a pack would be appropriate for the walk. It took two tries before getting it right and only then because of the helpful people at Hiker’s Haven. It was a thirty-four liter Osprey backpack, for me it proved to be a perfect fit. It was all adjusted and fitted for my frame, with water and all my belongings for the trip, the weight was slightly over eight kilograms.

I walked a couple of times at home, wearing the backpack with a weight equivalent to the weight I would carry on the Camino. I was satisfied that walking daily on the Camino I would become adjusted to the backpack and its weight.

My first day was only a short walk from Pied St. Jean to Orisson, where I had the only reservation I made for the trip. I could take my time and get the backpack adjusted, so it rode well and was comfortable. I removed it several times and finally got it riding on my back and hips. It was comfortable and after a day or two, it was almost as if I was unaware of it. When I put it on in the morning I was aware of the weight, but it carried well. When you carry all your belongings and everything you need for each day you tend to be very careful over the backpack. The contents are precious, each evening before retiring to my bunk I would have everything packed and ready to go for the next morning. The only items left out was my sleeping bag and clothes for the next day, always very attentive not to leave anything. Well, most of the time!

I was staying at a very nice private Albergue on the back of a hotel in Villa Franca. There was a cabinet that reached to the top bunk, where I was sleeping. That night when I retired I put my eyeglasses on the top of the cabinet. The next morning my Texan friend who was in the bottom bunk and I were leaving at five thirty. I did my look around, making sure nothing was left behind. It was dark and my headlamp was on red so it would not bother the other pilgrims who were still sleeping. I checked, had everything and we were of. The first part of the walk was all uphill, which was good, the morning was cool and we were at our peak strength.

About two and one half kilometers out, and just starting to break daylight we stopped to read a plaque. I couldn’t read it, not because of the light, but I had no eyeglasses and I need them to read. I remembered putting them on the cabinet the night before and the only place I never checked before setting out on the days walk. I had to go back and quickly, my friend said she would wait for me and keep watch over my backpack, so I would not have to carry it. The return to my starting point may have been my fastest time of the whole Camino. I wanted to retrieve my glasses and return as quickly as possible, because my friend caring for the backpack would also find it very cold in short order. The uphill climb had made us warm even though it was a cool morning, staying for along period in the one place would be very uncomfortable.

I was successful in retrieving my eyeglasses and throughout that day as I was walking, I was reflecting on that return trip to the Albergue. I felt so light, it seemed as if I could fly. I had been carrying the backpack for about two weeks, it had become so much a part of me, I wasn’t aware of the weight until I was released from it. The lesson I learned from that experience related to life, my life. Most of my life I have been carrying this cumbersome load and it had become so much apart of me, I was not aware of it. In my backpack was fear, doubt, anxiety and a host of other unnecessary things, not a lot, but enough to weigh me down and stress my body with that extra weight. I was aware of those things before and had tried to rid myself of  them. That day I realized it was not what was in the backpack that I had to rid myself of, it was the backpack. That would mean a whole new approach to my journey of life with nothing weighing me down. That is the journey I am on and inviting you to take as well. I couldn’t take my backpack off, because there were things I thought I needed , but didn’t.

Next post-The Backpack (part two.)

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This blog is journalistic in nature, it is a picture of the experiences that have shaped me over the course of my lifetime. It is a transparent look at myself and how it has been dealt with and what the outcome has been. My hope is that it may help you, because in the end it is strictly about YOU.

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