What We Leave Behind

There are always decisions involved with leaving.

The starting point is figuring out what to take. I usually start with gear, because those are the more complicated decisions. It doesn't do any good to bring your favorite camera on an extended trip if you forget its battery charger. It's like a puzzle, and you need the right pieces.

Weight plays a critical role. For example, I love the functionality of a laptop computer. But relative to the other things I bring, it's heavy and bulky. If I can get by without it, I will. Tripods fall in to the same category.

Then we get to the suitcase itself. Here too, I only pack what I think I'll actually need. My thinking is that if I forgot something, I can always buy it on the road. One of my favorite sayings is, "It's not like we're going to Cuba." I might have to modify that for my departure this Thursday.

For my trip to Havana, I need to have everything I need. I can't go to the corner drugstore and buy insect repellent or Ibuprofen. That has to be with me. So, in the same fashion as packing my gear bag, I have a checklist, and I'm starting the process early.

This next part is closer to home. Every time I walk out the door, I leave my family behind. To be honest, I would prefer that they come with me, especially my wife. But that's not practical for them. I'm the one who wants to explore. They have their jobs, school, friends, and responsibilities here, not there.

I realize the risk that comes with adventure. Something could go wrong. I try to comfort myself by saying that things could go wrong anywhere. But even if everything runs smoothly, I'm still disrupting the rhythm of daily life.  And even while visiting the most beautiful places on the planet, I think of them.

The fact of the matter is, what we leave behind

is more valuable than what we bring.