If you’re going on holiday, what will you take with you? In the days when I travelled more than I do now, it was fascinating to see some people checking in huge amounts of luggage, and others next to nothing, even for long-haul flights. When our three children were children we went on quite a few Eurocamp holidays to France. The rule was: take no more than fits in a supermarket plastic bag. The children were on the whole left to do their own packing, and their judgment was usually spot on. Of course, a favourite toy had to fit in the bag, and quite right too. I learnt the hard way that travelling light is best. On one flight to the US Susan and I were questioned closely by security staff at check-in because we had so little. I think they thought we might be suicide bombers so wouldn’t be coming back. (Do I look like a suicide bomber?)
Over the past few weeks lectionary readings have been advising us to travel light: no baggage, no looking back, concentrate on essentials. Travel light in every sense, not just luggage, but also attitudes, obsessions, addictions, shoulds, oughts, other people’s expectations …. ditch them. I know, it’s easier to do this as one gets older and cares less what other people think. I know, when you’ve got a boss breathing down your neck, and targets to meet, and others to placate–all this makes it difficult to travel light. There’s the mortgage to pay, and the children to clothe, feed and educate. In days not long gone, men in particular found themselves stuck on this treadmill. Now, with both parents in many households having to work, it’s worse still.
‘I want’ used to mean ‘I lack’ (as in ‘there is nothing I shall want’). Now it seems to mean the opposite: ‘I must have, I absolutely can’t do without’. All piffle of course. We can do without anything if we set our minds to it. Jack Reacher carries only a toothbrush and buys cheap clothes as he travels. Mind you, he has money in his wallet. He can’t have been married. There’s something wonderfully liberating in arriving at a port or a railway station, not having to be anywhere in particular and going where one pleases. We arrived at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof on one holiday in exactly that position. We ended up in Weimar that night. Cain was made to wander the earth as punishment. Was it really punishment?
Happy summer. I hope you find refreshment somehow. Take what comes and enjoy it as best you can. Travel as light as you can.