The experienced traveler is an efficient pilgrim, the devout disciple of personal economy. His enlightened philosophy is to pack only what is necessary to reduce significant anxiety. Yet through inexperience and habits of luxury, every traveler is at first possessed with numerous anxieties and fears. Concerned about the most implausible contingencies, he accounts for these by carrying an abundance of supplies to meet every possible situation. Worse, he secretly expects to find the world boring, so he carts along plenty of entertainment.
Our pilgrim soon discovers the greatest threat to his progress is neither storms or foe, but plain, old fatigue. Why is he fatigued? Because he drags his feet beneath the burden of many possessions. His mind is distracted at all times with their constant care. He is brought to a choice, either to jettison all excess or abandon his pilgrimage altogether. But quitting his many supplies requires him to accept whatever consequences may come from having less when times get hard. In minimizing, the pilgrim surrenders himself to prowess and providence. He becomes free to pursue his goal with a light foot.
The pilgrim paradox is that the less one bears the better he lives. Pure travel means finding contentment in what is found along the way; making do with what God through nature serves. One laden down with supplies for every exigency can not recognize the bounty around him, nor does he exercise his ingenuity to meet challenges which would otherwise improve him. The ideal traveler is minimalistic, resourceful, resigning himself to that which is beyond personal control. He learns to meet a wide variety of circumstances with the barest supplies, letting faith quell his fear of what cannot be anticipated.
Pilgrim luxury is a spartan kind of luxury—the simple pleasure of living without the usual tethers that bind men in materialistic and highly structured society. Pilgrims are free to sample delights of different lands and be on their way, bound to none; to enlarge their experience with the stories of many individuals they meet along the way. The pilgrim is a master of travel, and the art of travel is overcoming material anxiety so that one might move freely and enjoy each place fully. Anxiety is overcome by developing resourcefulness, courage, and faith. With experience, one is able to survive on little more than his wit and hopes.
First Published 23, March 2011