Travel light, but take everything with you.
That was the last message I received from my father before he began his ascent. The words struck me in an unexpected way. I had anticipated experiencing a range of emotions at the outset of his trek. Exasperation at the foolishness of this mid-life-crisis-driven thrill-seeker kick. Pride in his ambition. Fear for his life--no, fear for my own life, which would change drastically and uncomfortably if he never made it back.
But at the base of that mountain, with ice on the wind, as he read me that short passage from the introduction to his mountaineering guide, so much of his life drew into focus.
Travel light, it said, and I knew how my father would interpret that: don't hold on to petty things, to the unimportant trivialities and discomforts of life. But take everything with you: don't forget where you came from, and who you came with.
Your experiences shape you. Your past is who you are. But your future is who you are becoming.
He taught me this just before he ascended to his peak, and I knew that I would be here for him, joining him at that moment in his future when I could see who he had become.