Have you ever felt like you're being weighed down?
There is a saying I often heard growing up in Lebanon: "The more you own, the more you will be owned".
When I packed for a bike trip across Europe, I packed everything I thought I needed - clothes, sweaters, windbreaker, underwear, pants, shorts, helmet, equipment, repair kit, spare tires, tools, books, notebook, papers, maps, locks, first aid kit, etc...
I ended up packing 30 pounds of stuff. I stacked the bags on my bike rack and took it for a 30 minute test run. It felt okay. I was confident I could handle the trip with all that stuff.
Caption: My Fully Packed Bags in Montreal - Source: Tarek Riman - Near Berri Uqam, Montreal
What I didn't take into account was that I would be biking 5 to 7 hours a day, up and down the hills of Spain, Portugal and France. As I left with my bike and 30 pounds, moving from the airport and dragging my gear all around the city, the weight started to kick in.
I arrived at Bayonne station in the South of France and started reassembling my bike. I began to feel that maybe, just maybe, I had too much stuff. But no. I needed it all! I would manage.
Little did I know, it would be when I was on my own, biking full days, that those 30 pounds would really start to drag me down. This was no test run. This was the real deal and 30 pounds was starting to feel like 100.
Rethink Your Choices
Arriving in Saint Jean Pied de Port after 5 hours of biking, I realized that if I was going to complete my journey, I would need to let some things go.
I gave my lock and a hockey bag full of gear to the owner for storage. I told him I would be back for it in two months.
Getting rid of those things helped a bit, but the next morning, I had to go over the French Pyrenees to cross into Spain. There was no downhill or easy plains. It was mostly uphill. Trust me, going uphill for 4 hours straight makes you rethink your life choices. Especially your packing ones.
I never did return for my things. The weight I unloaded is still there today. Looking back, I realize I wasn't willing to fully let go at the time. I was still trying to hold onto things that didn't serve me.
Here's the truth: You'll never know unless you try. Most of the time, we don't know what we don't know. Meaning, you don't realize how much something is weighing you down until you let it go... for good.
I needed to rethink everything I was holding onto.
Caption: A lighter bike as I'm half way through my trip - Source: Tarek Riman - El Cebrero, Spain
What Do You Truly Need?
Having to literally carry your baggage around makes you look at everything and ask, "Do I really need this?" It's possibly the most important question you can ask yourself.
And it's all about perspective. Back in Canada, I was ok with hoarding an old, unused TV, a diary from 2010 and a bleach stained sweater with about 21 holes in it. I was even hoarding relationships. I kept a lot of people in my life that were no longer aligned with my path - people who dragged me down. Why stay friends with someone because they might take time to post a "HBD" message on your Facebook wall?
When you are left with fewer choices, when your knees are hurting, your legs are tired and the weather is not helping, a different perspective kicks in. You start to think about what you truly need... and don't need.
Caption: Packing lighter, Living lighter as I travel - Source: Tarek Riman - On the road somewhere in Spain
Getting Rid of More Than Excess
The moment I arrived in Pamplona, I gave away two sweaters and five pairs of socks. That took me down to only 17 pounds.
I still felt the weight the next day. My legs were really tired, but the journey continued. I started to realize, day by day, that I needed much less than I thought. I kept giving things away in every village I passed through.
As I reached the end of my journey, all I had was one lock, two shirts, two pairs of pants and two pairs of socks and underwear. Nothing else. I continued with this till the end of my trip and never felt I was missing anything. My bag was almost down to 10 pounds and I felt like I could travel even lighter still.
As I owned less, I worried less. The more I removed from my backpack, the better I felt. I only had a few items, limited internet and nothing but the connection to nature and other people. It felt good.
I realized I had my priorities messed up. I valued money over time, quantity over quality, places over people, opinion over fact, status quo over change.
At the end of the trip I was the happiest I had ever been. I was letting go of all the things weighing me down and holding be back from being my best self.
I started purging in every area of my life and it felt really good as the pounds fell away.
I made it a habit to ask myself, "Do I really need this?" Anything not aligned with where I wanted to go and who I wanted to become was let go.
I started to not only travel lighter, but to feel and live lighter.
Caption: Letting Go and Living Light- Source: Tarek Riman - Barcalona, Spain
Ask Yourself This
With all things, ask yourself if you really need it. Ask, "Is this job/relationship/thing making me happy, or helping me become a better me?"
If your answer is "no", realize that you have a choice.
Imagine your life without all the things you feel weighed down by. Don't let yourself be owned by the very things you own. As a Disney princess once said, "Let it go" ;)