My friend Michelle sent me this beautiful little book which arrived yesterday afternoon, a delightful compendium of short bios and, on the facing pages, quotes from a range of writers and others about the "things they carried" on their journeys. Some of them I am familiar with, some not at all. It reminds me of Tim O'Brien's Vietnam book and essay of the same name, The Things They Carried, which I once used as the jumping off point for a blog post on the things we carry in grief ~ things being less tangible than not.
You might see the humor in Thoreau's (he of Walden Pond simplicity ~ of sorts) list for a 12-day canoe trip into the Maine woods: 166 pounds of stuff, "enough to nearly swamp the canoe when they launched it."
My favorites so far:
For Basho's Great Walk, Basho being a 17th century Buddhist wanderer and poet, a short list of items, ending with
"discomfort and vexation
all the way"
a list of the contents of Father Zossima's cell (from The Brothers Karamazov),
Bilbo's list of what he takes as he sets out for a walk, including what he forgets,
and the "Baggage for the Arctic Tern's 22,000 Mile Migration." The facing page is empty.
Quite a wonderful little book.