“Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes…” Henry David Thoreau
We travel to be free, to get away, to leave behind trials and tribulations, to discover, to lose ourselves in a world unlike our own, with less traffic, less work, and hopefully little stress. Yet, as we prepare our personal belongings for the great voyage, we often annihilate some of these goals by dragging along the very shackles from which we are attempting to escape. Exhibit A: clothes.
I have seen, on countless occasions, clueless tourists dragging along half their closets and struggling to make headway as they navigate heavily frequented areas, growing frustrated as the sidewalks narrow and people bounce off their personal belongings like pinballs in the game of life. I find the concept both comical and unnerving, a dichotomy easily explained by my general tendency towards optimization. Take heed of this timeless piece of advice: when packing, less is always better.
To Wear Or Not To Wear
There is a misconception, proliferated by our rampant tendency towards consumerism, that clothing defines the individual. We overflow our closets with clothing for all circumstances. We purchase rags for sleeping, walking, running, biking, swimming, yoga, working, casual nights, fancy nights, the opera, a symphony, a wedding, an interview, first dates and last dates, sex, and every other imaginable activity in which we partake. We wear these proudly and fantasize that we are now better athletes, better lovers, and even better people. Newsflash: you are not. Behind that pile of polyester and cotton lies the same you, with all your qualities and defects, with your greatness and uniqueness still intact. Clothing does not define us. So leave the crap behind when you take off and bring along only what is necessary to remain decent.
The truth is that with a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and very comfortable shoes you can travel most of the world. You may adjust this selection accordingly as vapor grows solid and freezes. What you need is not variety but rather practicality. Be modular. Find combinations that function on most occasions and be avant-garde. Who cares what others think? What gives if they saw you yesterday sporting the same plumage? Do we berate the nightingale for wearing the same colors while we melt in awe at the grandeur of its symphonic explosion? Clothes do not define us. So let it not define the efficacy of your excursions.
The Elephant That Became An Impala
I close my eyes and see you clearly as you lift your miniscule backpack with nothing in it but a change of clothes, with dreams in the outer pockets and illusions in the water reservoir. I find joy and pride in your newfound mobility. You dash and flash through the masses and suddenly jump sideways in an amazing display of dexterity as yet another phone addict, oblivious to his surroundings, crashes resoundingly against a present version of who you were, against the one that couldn’t avoid the collision because he was too busy dragging along his life.