And on the worst days
When it feels like life weighs ten thousand tons
I sleep with my passport
One eye on the back door
So I can always run
I can get up, shower, and in half an hour I’ll be gone
– I Am Disappeared, Frank Turner
It’s hard to explain how significant my backpack is. It’s not made for months of travelling, but it is made for escape. Escaping is one of the things most often on my mind these days. Don’t take that the wrong way, I don’t believe in the ‘final escape’, but just getting away. I’ve been more quiet and thoughtful and old fears have started to ebb away. I’m 30 years old now and fortunate with many things in my life. Still blood is thicker than water. All my anxiousness seems to point to the door lately.
“I feel like one of these days you’ll pack your suitcase and you’ll be gone…”, said my girlfriend to me the other day. What remained unsaid is that she’d be happy to see that, I’m sure that was what she thought. She continued saying that the happiest she’d seen me was when I was travelling, with my bag full of clothes and books. Just that and a road to travel, that is indeed something beautiful to experience. There’s that thing about a bag.
When Orhan Pamuk received a Nobel prize for literature, he did a Nobel Lecture titled ‘My Father’s Suitcase‘. The story is about self-discovery, writing and growth, but there is also this thing about the suitcase of his father, that somehow contained much more meaning than the whole library and all the other things. In that suitcase was the soul, the essence of his father.
There is an essence to life, a basis that is our true source of happiness I believe. It all fits in one suitcase, it’s all you need for your piece of mind. So my backpack would normally contain clothes, toilet gear and books and that is all I need. Take what you can carry and that’s enough. You can’t carry more than what your back can stand and your hands can hold. I think in a way that’s a good metaphor for life itself. Everyone tries to balance so many things in a limited amount of time, which makes them unhappy because there is so little fulfillment to it. It’s a rush from task to task, from hour to hour, which make you forget about the other important element in this story.
The road is a metaphor for life and intertwined with carrying what you can on it. It is a road to a destination and you should be able to enjoy the ride as much as reaching the end goal. In life we’re most often busy chasing many goals ,so we rarely take a moment to look around and enjoy the place we are at, because it never satisfies us. We need more, which is what society drives us to do. Statistics determine the way companties work, not the progress itself. The progress in turn serves the statistics, because tweeking that performance level will bring more invisible wealth to a faceless entity without a soul. People have lost sight of the road, the horizon is all that matters. Finding more possessions, tools and skills tot he point where you’re laden that heavily, that you can no longer move. It’s an utterly horrifying idea to me.
Humans used to be nomads, traversing from place to place, in order to live, eat, grow and prosper. There was a direct relation between life and travel, which I think touches our essence still. Then we became settlers and soon we became as humans divided in classes of wealth, birth and reverence. It takes away something and replaces it with hollow means. Maybe I’m looking into this too deeply, but I feel that the road and carrying only with you what you can carry brings back a bit of that elementary feeling, the pure essence of being instead of surrounding oneself with hollow, meaningless things.
So I keep my backpack ready, because life can be rather meaningless when you get confronted with your insignificance on a daily basis. So I make sure I can always run, get to the busstop and go to the airport and get out. In the end, the only thing that matters is the road.