Before Departure Thoughts (or, Sentimental Musing)

The things that are old and worn are the items that I find the most charming because through human use and world erosion everything as we know it passes through different stages of decay. The clean slate, the untouched newly created possession is hardly as interesting as your grandmother or grandfather’s trove of half forgotten treasures. After years of use or ownership our possessions adopt our energy and this only makes an item so much more valuable. My father’s old forest green GORE-TEX® hat is one of those items that is endowed with a mythical quality. He has taken this hat on many adventures and together they have seen the tops of many mountains. It is well worn and well loved and, despite newer gear, it has remained a member of our family. The interior wool lining is still soft and the neck strap is still intact; the velcro on the sides of the hat still do the job just fine and there are no stains except for underneath the rim. I do not think it is possible for me to be more attached to a hat I had never worn before, and this attachment has been fostered because of how it has symbolically developed throughout my life. This hat was my dad’s adventure hat and I grew up looking at photos of him out in the world conquering mountains– far away from me and my brothers and my mother. I remember feeling as if I was looking at another world, a place I wanted to be apart of one day where I would also stand with a grin on my face isolated from worry and surrounded by beauty.

In one particular photo I found of my dad, he is somewhere in Colorado standing on some ubiquitous Colorado mountain. His hands are in his pockets and he is wearing a blue jumper with a yellow bandanna tied around his neck. I can hardly recognize his face covered with facial hair and cast in shadows. I will never know the man my dad was when this photo was taken– he has changed and grown since– but I am able to at the very least share the same sense of awe that I know he experiences. I am grateful that we share this because it is something that can never decay and wither away as easily as our bodies and material possessions do–just as this hat has aged and will age further. The old and worn items with all of their charm are just sentimental conduits to connect us to other humans and experiences (old and new) anyways. I value this hat because of the man who owns it and because of why he values it himself. This is why it was a surprise to me when my dad brought the old forest green friend out from his bedroom after I told him that I would be walking across the European continent. I find myself ready now to embark on my own fabled adventure, Via Francigena. I know my family back home will be covering me in love as I stand in awe with a stupid grin on my face just like my dad in his green hat standing on a mountain.

My last day in the United States has been spent saying good-bye and checking several times to be certain I have everything I think I need. I fly off to London soon and I cannot know when I will be able to post any updates, but I will try to be as present as possible without detracting from what I am experiencing (a fine line). My friend, Nic, will be able to post updates for me once in awhile, but there will not be a schedule in place.

There is still more to share and write about, but for now I leave it at this.

J.

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