The Christmas before I left to spend a year in Australia, my parents asked me what I wanted. I don't remember what I got that year except for one thing. My dad gave me an REI travel-sized sewing kit, no wider than a business card. At the time, I had only an idea of the places that it would go with me. Stashed away but ready to report for duty, that little kit has been by my side on solo journeys and changing seasons, through dusty roads and salty seas.
There are many arguments for choosing a few sturdy things that will inevitably be put to use until their final days. They can certainly save money in the long run, and I have had no shortage of penny-saving days. By prolonging the life of our belongings, we also conserve resources and reduce the impact that we are having on the environment. But ultimately, while I would certainly agree that both of those things are considerations, it is much more simple than all of that.
The items that I do choose to be in my arsenal have been carefully curated with a mixture of livability, ruggedness, and quirkiness. I wouldn't call myself a true minimalist, but I have always preferred quality over quantity, collecting just a few things that are strong enough to hold the memories that will inevitably be imbedded in them. There are only a few things that I would be hesitant to give up, and these are the belongings that have been used repaired time and time again, perhaps even slightly past their socially acceptable lifetime.
My Hydroflask will forever be tattooed by marine grade paint and stand at an awkward angle because of too many falls in the parking lot. My backpack has withstood many long days on the water and carries with it sand from different sides of the world. And, if you look closely enough, you will see the stitches in the back of my favorite jacket, the colorful and crooked scars marking a life well lived.
These possessions have accumulated their bumps and bruises, their scratches and signs of wear, just as I have. They are inanimate objects of no inherent value to anyone but me. But when I see them, they remind me of of where I have been, the stories that have unfolded, and the times that I have fallen and gotten up again.
I would rather my feet be dirty, my hair be slightly untamed, and my backpack be filled with remnants of adventure anyway.
Maddie is the creator and editor of The Thalassofiles. Her background is in marine biology, and she has a not-so-secret desire to embrace limitations, immerse herself in the great outdoors, and try new things. And then write about it.