I'm preparing for our second Vignettes & Verses course in Ireland, and beginning to think about packing. I love the challenge of packing lightly, and much of this is because of how good I feel when I don't have heavy luggage to lug around: I don't want burdens when I want to think clearly and creatively. The travel writer Rick Steves wrote something to the extent that one might look at each item packed and really think about whether they will need it enough to carry it. I think about the idiom in our language--that one comes with a lot of baggage--as an expression to describe how one might be burdened by the past.
And there is the additional reason why packing light matters on this trip: we will be traveling down the Beara Peninsula in County Cork where the roads are narrow and vehicles, necessarily must be small enough to fit. Our entire group, then, will need to fit in a van, not a bus, which wouldn't dare travel the narrow roads.
The Greek writer Odysseas Elytis has many beautiful lists in his book The Little Mariner, and among them, "The Travel Sack."
He creates lists of songs he loves and artworks stored in museums and images he associates with poets like Yeats. I love this idea of the travel sack being outside of our own possessions, in the world in which we travel. We bring our memories and imagination and then we notice and gather from what is around us. I aspire to be resourceful--not always easy!--responding to the world rather than clutching to what I know. Sometimes, of course, it makes sense to carry bountiful suitcases of notebooks and books--if, for example, you are going to only one place where you will reside for a month or so.
But if we are traveling in order to write, on the move and looking around, the possibilities for writing extend beyond what we already think we need.