Saturday, August 21, 2010

Making Connections

There is no lack of inspiration these days for striving to live a more minimal and simplistic existence. The internet has lots of websites, blogs and articles devoted to such topics. There are talk shows with dedicated topics on the issue as well as television shows dedicated to scare people straight from the tendency to hoard clutter! Occasionally though, inspiration can be found in seemingly strange places. One such place for me was reading a book entitled Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardine's Guide to Lightweight Hiking.

This book dives deep into the subject of going to what some would call "extreme measures" to lighten up your pack weight when going backpacking. When Jardine first started writing about this subject, he was considered crazy! The tradition among backpackers was to carry huge packs that could easily weigh 60 pounds, not including food or water. "Sturdy" (think heavy) boots were touted as a necessity in the backpacking world. Outdoor equipment marketers mostly sold their wares by instilling fear that mother nature would rip you to shreds unless you bought their products. Ray Jardine made waves and enemies by renouncing traditional methods and ideas. Jardine and his wife got their base pack weight under 10 pounds each and then wrote about the methods in his books. This marked the beginning of a more widespread awareness and adoption of what is now known as "ultralight backpacking".

Obvious parallels between ultralight backpacking and what could be considered ultralight lifestyles (voluntary simplicity & minimalism) can be found with a bit of effort. To paraphrase Ray's philosophy, if I need it and I don't have it, I don't need it. I am guessing that many of you reading this are not backpackers, but most of us can resonate with that philosophy in some way within everyday life. I am not suggesting that everyone should run right out to get their hands on a copy of this book, but what I am suggesting is that we all keep an open mind. Having an open mind allows us to find interconnectedness among seemingly non-connected areas in life.

(The pic is one I took on a backpacking trip to the Guadalupe Mountains.)

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