Out With The Old — Or Not?

Rebecca's Camino shoes.
Rebecca’s Camino shoes.
I watched a video today in which Thoreau was quoted as saying, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” The video was by Patagonia — a manufacturer of new clothes. However, it was all about people who have kept the same (Patagonia) garments for 10-plus years, and the travels and tales they’ve had with those garments. In the short film “Worn Wear,” Patagonia asks us to “celebrate the stuff you already own” in this season of buying anew.

I watched “Worn Wear” and was further intrigued that many of the people in the video didn’t even buy their Patagonia gear new. They found it at a garage sale, or received it as a hand-me-down. It turns out the company is now accepting their used clothing back for reselling in some of their stores.

It reminded me of my preparations for the Camino — an “enterprise” for which many buy new clothes. And a new pack. And new hiking sticks. And on and on. But I’m one of those people who tries things once and often never does them again (woodturning, skydiving, biking across Iowa). So the prospect of buying new for such events seems like a waste of money to me.

And so it was that I bought my pack and rain jacket used. When one of my sisters needed help cleaning out her closet, I took the running clothes she no longer wanted and thus was gifted with the three shirts I wore along the Camino. My future brother-in-law lent me a headlamp.

I’ve adapted Thoreau’s comment for modern times and decided that no, I don’t need new clothes. But I can certainly borrow, accept hand-me-downs, or buy used.

And like many people in the film, I realized along the Camino route that my pack and I had been through a lot together. We had a shared story. But I realized she had seen things a little differently than I had.

  • Perched on my back, she saw where we had been, not where we were headed.
  • She didn’t spend much time inside cafes as most of us left our packs outside when we went into a cafe.
  • She was more durable than I was — being tossed to the ground on many occasions when I was just to tired to continue.
  • Like me, she got dusty and hot and sometimes a little wet.
  • She never carried my money — that I kept in a belt around my waist. But while I was in the shower, did she see the thief that came into the hostel and stole money from my fellow peregrinos?

My shoes, too, tell a story.

  • They walked with me in six different states while I was preparing for the Camino.
  • They endured a thorough misting of waterproofing spray before I left.
  • They were with me at the airport when I took off for the trip; then helped me get from planes to a bus to a train and into a car before I finally reached my starting point.
  • Like my pack, they got hot and dusty and more than a little wet.
  • They saw the inside of cafes, but not many hostels as pilgrims are required to leave their shoes in the foyer of hostels so as to keep them clean.
  • Upon my return, they became decorated with paint from a Habitat trip, and helped me start a running habit.

They have holes in them now. But I can’t seem to part with them quite yet.

My pack will not be used on another Camino. Though it was the perfect size when I started, by the time I finished I had deemed many items unnecessary and no longer needed such a big pack. So perhaps I’ll bring her to Second Gear — the sporting goods consignment shop here in Asheville — so that someone else can create new stories with her.

What items do you own that tell a story? What items do you own that you no longer use? Consider giving them away so they can be part of someone else’s story.