Monday, July 15, 2013

Making the Post-Camino Changes Last, Part Five: Shedding Material Excess

I am grateful for all I have.  We have enough money for groceries, my car is dependable, and we each have more than three changes of clothing.  To not acknowledge these things would be foolish.  In a world where so many other people don't have food and basic shelter, I am blessed with relative plenty.

Not that we're wealthy.  Far from it.  The girls and I are going to squish into our old 2-person tent during our trip to Utah in a couple of weeks.  I can't afford a new 3-person tent right now, so this old one will have to do.  We don't buy new clothes and we try to make all our own food so we can have money for plane tickets.  We don't have cable television or gaming consoles because we need money for hiking boots. Etc.

Still.  Like most of you, we have at least 50% more belongings than we actually need.  That excess has to go; we're in the process of getting rid of it all.

We've been home from the Camino for ten weeks.  For each of those ten weeks, I've gotten rid of four garbage bags full of stuff we no longer use (or, in many cases, never needed to begin with).  Most of the "stuff" has been donated, though some of it has been thrown away (no one wants a torn-up pair of toddler sandals). 

If the girls were in college and I didn't have pets, then I'd probably give away every single thing in this house and embark on an effort to hike all 11 National Scenic Trails.  The female Nimblewill Nomad, that would be me.

Simplify, simplify, simplify. 

All this material weeding has led to some spiritual weeding.  I'm changing.  Becoming more and more choosy about how and where I spend my time.  There is no more room for banal chit-chat.

No more hanging out with people who talk talk talk about others, no blind "liking" of anything my Facebook friends send my way, no doing anything based solely on the expectations of others.  I care less and less and less about what people think.  I do my best to adhere to my personal code of ethics without regard to current mainstream opinion.   

Many pilgrims say the Camino changes them.  I used to think that way about my own situation, but now I realize that's not exactly the truth.  The Camino didn't change me -- what it did was remind me of all that is important to me as a mother and a woman.  It eliminated all the distractions and brought me back to myself. 

Right now, my children are my (happy) duty and my time and attentions are concentrated on them.  I do a decent job mothering them.  I make mistakes, absolutely, but I'm happy with the way things are going.  I don't want my current life to be any different from what it is right now.
The woman thing, though -- that's different.  I sometimes get distracted and lose sight of what I want for myself...and what I want for myself is very simple.  I want to hike.  That's it.  Besides taking good care of my children and being a good friend to my loved ones, nothing else is important.  Nothing.  The Camino reminded me of this.  Immersing myself in nature, walking through forests, climbing gnarly trails, pushing myself to my physical limit -- such activities are my definition of personal happiness.

When the kids are not with me, when Hugh has them to himself, I'm on a trail.  By the time the girls have left for college, I'll have hiked all 500+ trails of New Hampshire's White Mountains.  Then, when my nest is completely empty (no kids, no pets), I will live on national and international trails as much as my health allows.  Thru-hiking will become my way of life.  This I know about myself.  It's the one thing of which I am 100% certain. 

Fellow trekkers, you understand. 

Material excess.  Who needs it.  Beyond basic housing, clothing, and food, you don't need "things."  Happiness doesn't come from material goods.  It comes from the bug crawling across your pants leg, clouds drifting across the sky, and the sound of happy bullfrogs.

I give thanks for all I have, as should you.  Ten years from now, when my children have left the nest, I'll give constant and in-person thanks for what we all have -- open skies, dirt trails, waterfalls, and mountains.


Trekker Dog said...

I'm in the process of purging. Not as much as you, but still a lot. After my mom moved to assisted living, and emptying out her house, I just feel like I don't want anything! I work a lot, and I want to simplify my life as much as possible, so I can spend as much time as I can enjoying myself in my free time - usually involves hiking with my partner & my dogs.

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Trekker Dog, I'm finding more and more that the simple life is the way to go. For me, paring it all down and sticking to the basics is what brings me joy and peace. I understand your feelings of not wanting anything. Hope your mom is doing well. That's a difficult transition for a family to go through.