My old back-pack is a mental health issue.

I’ll tell you right up front:  the old back-pack is in the middle of a big trash bin at the garage.

It was a 1970’s Boy-Scout type pack:  on a good aluminum frame, with a high-quality waist belt and good shoulder pads.  It was tan canvas, with leather straps.

I was in Boy Scouts briefly when I was 12; learned some knots, some camping basics, and it was my first exposure to civic-group dynamics.  Even though I didn’t stay long, I still carry the things I learned there.  Later on I bought the pack.

In April 1976 it accompanied me on the Horseshoe Trail in Pennsylvania, on a high-school-sponsored trip when we awoke to snow on the ground and bathed in a flowing river.  It has seen a few miles of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania.  And it has hung in the garage or sat in the attic for so many decades that the leather straps have fallen off.

The dreams of open trails and grand adventures which the pack represented are still dreams that I like.  I still seek the adventures and ponder whether I can do any trail-walking again.  But life has a way of piling up must-do things, and heart-breaking things, and failed-dream things that once in a while you’ve got to clear house.

Moving again is one of those house-clearing things, and it is not isolated from the struggle to clear my heart and head as well.  Mortality seems a bit more probable now that 5 decades are gathered into my experience.  Streamlining the dream-chasing is an ever more poignant necessity as I realize that the usual allotment of time for a human life leaves me more than half way through.  That streamlining includes letting un-finish-able stuff pass on by.

Let it go.  No matter how much it was special in the past, no matter how dear the ideal was or is to my heart:  if it gets in the way of the path I need to walk ahead of me I need to let it go.  

That is hard sometimes, to let go of an ideal or a memory token.  It’s ok to keep that which sustains me and energizes me; but the capacity of a thought or a memory token to give a good contribution to my current and future life must be scrutinized.  If it gets in the way or slows me down in the pursuit of rich and full life now, if it hinders my most valued relationships, if it consumes energy which I need to spend elsewhere,  I need to let it go.

The same can also be said for past hurts.

Carrying an old rotted backpack along to my new home is only going to get in the way of how I need to live when I am there.  The memories of old hikes are sustaining, and they do good to my soul.  But in this stage of life, I need the freedom-from-stuff more than I need the memory tokens.

Sunset Promises

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