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One of the things that I struggle with is knowing what I’ll need at any given time. This isn’t my struggle alone; we all know someone whose house is packed with stuff that they’ve kept around, just in case. Spend time on the trail, and we all run into people who are carrying everything but the kitchen sink, because they don’t want to be caught unprepared. As we know, possessions are only valuable when they’re used, so holding onto or hauling a bunch of stuff that we don’t use isn’t a valuable method of resource management. What we need to prioritize is the ultimate resource; knowledge. Which brings us to Rule for Intrepid Living #78; “The more you know, the less you need.”
This quote, from Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, provides a good reminder of how we can reduce what we’re carrying on the trail, and in life. I wish I had figured it out a lot earlier in my life. On Boy Scout camping trips in my teens, I would haul a huge bag full of stuff to every camp out. Not a big backpack or a large duffel bag. A giant zippered sack full of every conceivable item that I thought I might need in case of an emergency. Seldom did I use any of it!
I’m embarrassed in hindsight, but I know better now. For example, sometimes I take a small ax or hatchet with me on outings, but unless I have specific plans for one, I know that I can get by without it. Same with a camp shovel, a cooking knife, or steel for a firestarter. My fixed blade knife can handle all the tasks requiring those tools, simply because I know how to use it. The knife is awesome, but it’s my knowledge that truly makes it useful.
It may sound cliche, but knowledge is power. The more you know, the less you need. It isn’t just true of camping equipment, but also your life. I’ve recently been de-cluttering my life, which has been very empowering. I’ve cleared so much space by selling off books that I kept around, just in case I needed to reference them again. After realizing that I know how to use the library, I was freed from the anxiety of asking myself, “what if I need this information again.”
These examples are just the beginning. The more you know, the less you need. How else do you think we can apply this to our lives? We can free ourselves from clutter, save money, lower pack weight, and maybe be a little more grateful for the things that we have in our lives.
We truly can do more with less. Knowledge frees us to have more, do more, and be more than just collectors. The more we know, the less we need, and the more adventures that are open to us.
All we have to do, is learn. And that’s an adventure in and of itself.