The knife was the most useful. Small pocketknife. Light, razor-sharp. It opened cans, cut melons, spread butter. Then, of course, a cell phone and a cup, I got from the priest in Poland, when I stayed at his parish for a night.
Given something, I felt happy. A moment later, I treated it as something oridnary, natural, mine. What I was refused, especially in need, I carried much longer. At least a few days. Maybe sometimes even longer, especially if that lack of help caused a constant pain, every time I buckled up my backpack belt.
Generally, my backpack was heavier than the prescribed 10 percent of body weight. Well, the road was longer than the standard one. So no wonder. Sleeping mat and sleeping bag. Three pairs of underwear and some light shirts. Spare shoes. Other things.
Thing that is rare mentioned is definitely vitamin C. I wouldn’t leave my home without it. It weighs a little, and helps not only the owner. The compass proved to be unnecessary, because even if I had a map, I often couldn’t determine my position on that map.
Gloves came in handy just once. Scarf virtually never. I didn’t have earplugs and only once I paid the price of a sleepless night for that omission. But it was even a little funny, to get up in the morning, with red eyes and headache, to greet others, to packs and starts to walk again half-conscious. Such events teach us what are we able to, if we really want. We can endure a lot and life doesn’t have to be nice, to make us feel good and move forward.
What’s interesting on pilgrimage, and what we can’t discern in daily life is the fact, that everything we have, we need to carry. It weighs. Every single thing, step by step, kilometer after kilometer, moving up and down, takes out our strength, bends us stronger to the ground, intensifies pain, fatigue, probability of injuries.
So before my pilgrimage, I was wondering what else could be useful to me, what else to put in my backpack. During the journey, I asked myself what can I remove from my rucksack, what I could spare.
I was precautious, so there weren’t many things to get rid of. I sent home a French camino-guide, a rather thick book no longer useful in Spain. A rain poncho – I also had a rain jacket which was much more comfortable. Unfortunately sending poncho home turned out to be a bad idea. Going later to Negreira, I walked in a white squall (unique, powerful storm). I was so wet, that I lost my cell-phone. I also sent home a spare cell battery. It weighed some 1/3 kg and saved me several times when I was walking through Europe because I was sleeping under the open sky or there was no place to plug in my cell to recharge.
So we realize on the pilgrimage and feel to its all extent that everything we have has to be carried. That it costs. That it’s hard. We don’t see it in life. We don’t think it’s harder for us to have more, because we can put it all in drawers, wardrobes and so on.
There is some tendency in us to gather. To have … more. As if all that we have, all we’ve experienced could become our real property, our kingdom, due to which we could be somehow bigger, stronger…
But maybe life is a bit like a pilgrimage, maybe having more doesn’t mean to be better. Maybe we have to pay for everything we own. Maybe having less – it’s better, it’s easier. Maybe as on the road, it is worth taking out of the backpack (titled: “I have it”) everything that’s not necessary. Because life isn’t a supervising the treasury of our wealth. Not even in physical meaning. If we try to do this, we won’t be able to stop and all our effort will end as a failure and and with a sense of tragedy.
Life is a pilgrimage, so every next day we take with us just enough to go ahead. Because it’s our destiny and nature – to move forward, constantly, every day until we reach our destination. We are a movement, a flowing stream, not standing water. We learn things, experience life events and move ahead, we don’t dwell in a castle created by our greed and desire to have more of… everything. In a sense, we’re nomads, because our home is not of this world, because the paths we follow – lead beyond the world we know. Because we’re something more than a storehouse, we’re a source and a stream, constantly bringing something new to life, constantly exploring, constantly running towards its unknown destination.