30 years ago my parents bought me a state of the art sleeping bag. It was light, toasty warm and roomy. I thought they were just giving me some camping gear but some simple things have a way of becoming important parts of our lives.
That bag was with me during some of the best moments of my adolescence. Wrapped in that bag I sat on top of Tiger Mountain, both in summer and winter, watching the sunset with friends. As it became dark around us we’d idly watch the traffic lights change in Issaquah while we talked long into the night about girls, our futures and what was the meaning of life. We’d go on long hikes to wild ocean beaches and in our tents, listening to the eternal surf, my friends and I would carry on about similar themes. We’d hike into the Cascades and feel like pioneers with only the basics and talk to comfort us.
Those conversations were and are important to me. They were uninhibited in the way that only young people can talk without cringing. Cocooned by my bag I explored my world in the safety of friendship with people who wouldn’t laugh at my ideas as stupid or talk over me because my voice wasn’t important. I do have to admit that once in the midst of a deep conversation, one of my companions was pouring out his heart about some stumbling relationship and when he finally finished he found that the rest of us had fallen asleep.
I look back and realise that at some point our words became our last conversation before we went out into the brave big world and went our separate ways. Of course that’s not recognised that until later, when we’ve become adults.
The great thing about well made memories is that while I may think of them here in a little northern English town, thousands of miles away someone else may be thinking about them too.
That bag is still with me. I tried to get rid of it a couple of years ago, lured by the siren call of sexy new streamlined bags. I gave my old bag to my oldest son and settled into my new bag for the first night of a camping trip. One of the worst sleeps of my life. The next day I gave my kid the new bag and got my old one back. Lovely, warm, roomy. Old school. The added bonus is that when I climb into that bag everything comes flooding back.
30 years and the bag has kept its value in my life. A lot of marriages don’t last 30 years. It’s unlikely you or I will keep a job with the same company for 30 years like our dads did. Economic booms don’t last 30 years. Most friendships don’t. Your modern car won’t nor will most of the junk we fill our houses with.
My sleeping bag is a reminder that some things last and add value to our lives. The least we can do is recognise them, celebrate them and cherish them.