When every kilogram matters

I was on a hike recently, where I was reminded of an age-old trekking lesson – every gram you carry on your back multiplies with distance.

This hike was along Catalunya’s Costa Brava – in the northeast of what is still called Spain. It was magnificent, dotted with rocky beaches and coves, with clear turquoise Mediterranean water. The hiking trail went from one beautiful beach town to to the other.

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While setting off on this hike, I had forgotten that rule above. Every 100 grams on a trek swells to a kilogram, by the time one walks a few kilometers. With steep ascents, this rate of swelling can be even faster. Moreover, I hadn’t researched the trail well enough. With each coastal town we passed, I thought of how lugging the food and water on our back was entirely wasteful! Whenever I did stopped to take in the scenes, the weight tugging on my back reminded me of my folly and kept me from enjoying the hike to the fullest.

Every one of our hunter gatherer ancestors owned less than a handful of items. As they trekked several kilometers in search of food and shelter, minimalism wasn’t a virtue – it was a prerequisite for survival.

In today’s world, we are more mobile than ever before. International borders are transparent and air travel has never been cheaper. Besides, the world speaks fewer languages than ever before. All these factors give us the option of packing our belongings and moving to another of its beautiful reaches. We can rent almost anything we’d miss – houses, cars, appliances or even a goat to help with landscaping.

However, the amount of stuff we own weighs us down. We aren’t likely to move too often or too far if the act of packing and moving our stuff around is painful. Here as well, every kilogram matters. Ownership is perhaps a habit that keeps us chained to our old ways of living – in a house we own or in a town we grew up in.

Ownership is overrated. It is past its prime. Continuing to hold on to it is the same as lugging food and water on a beach-trek across several towns with their own supermarkets.

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