pack your gear


Pack Your Gear

I can vividly recall the moment I began writing this song.

I had just dropped off Jude for his first day of first grade. I watched him waddle up the sidewalk–his backpack, like a turtle shell, hiding 95% of his body from behind–and the thought crossed my mind, “Gosh, I remember my first day of first grade.”

The moment for me was profound.

The journey that begins with walking into your first day of first grade leads to your last day of high school, which–for many–leads to college, which–for many–leads to a career and then to marriage and a mortgage and kids and…where in the heck does the time go?! (And if you are thinking, “Well, that was just a run-on sentence, Bill.” Yes! That is exactly what it feels like!)

I stood watching Jude and his backpack walk away and I muttered under my breath, “Well, it’s your turn now, buddy.”

The song has taken on all sorts of new meanings for me through the years as we’ve now made it through Jude’s first day of junior high and then high school, as we’ve dropped him off at summer camp and at his first day of his first job. Also, working at a university, I often think of this song as I watch graduates receive their diploma and obligatory handshake and then step off stage into whatever adventures lie ahead. “It’s your turn now, guys.”

But back to me and my first day of first grade: the thing I remember most about that day is wanting to go home. Kindergarten was only a half-day and included snack-time and a nap. Now, all of a sudden, I was in first grade, where we were sitting upright at desks and were doing so for the whole day! I immediately wanted to leave. In fact, I remember crying because I just wanted to go home so badly.

That homesickness has never really gone away.

C.S. Lewis says that the desire for our “proper place” is already in all of us. He goes on, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” In first grade, I wanted only to return to my house. Now, I long for something else: that other world for which I was made, the “far country” (to quote Lewis again) of which I’ve heard rumors but not yet visited.

I understand much better now than I did at six just how quick this whole journey is; I also understand how hard it gets. Have you ever asked yourself what the point of it all is? Certainly, you have. That is the great existential question humans have been asking since the beginning of humans asking questions. I can’t speak for anyone else, but the thing that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other these days is the sneaking suspicion that one day I will finally make it to that proper place I was made for and be rid of this homesick feeling forever. At first I thought this journey was leading me further and further away from home; now I see it is the exact opposite.

Jude had a great first day of first grade, by the way! And he had no clue the sort of existential crisis the whole experience caused his dad. That, I suppose, is the privilege of those at the start of their journey. And it is the weight of the wisdom gained along the way.



Pack your gear and sojourn
for it’s your turn
to tread this ground

Do not fear this old world
It will scar you for sure
but it’s good deep down

Maybe what keeps our journey
is the faint dream that we may be
on our way home

Stay the course when you’re scared
Always remember
you’re not alone

Face the storm and be brave
Watch for those who need saved
And lend your arm

Maybe what keeps our journey
is the faint dream that we may be
on our way home

Oh and son, don’t forget
to enjoy it
to taste and see

I pray you find the treasure
that can’t be measured
right beneath your feet

Maybe what keeps our journey
is the faint dream that we may be
on our way home



Words & Music by: Bill Wolf
Violin: Thomas Smith
Produced by: Thomas Smith
Videography by: Alyssa Shepherd
Video Editing by: Wilson Cobb