A Lasting Quality

It has served me well for more than 25 years, having endured winter storms and torrential rainfall, travels to distant sandy beaches, carrying everything from camera equipment, picnic lunches, and library books, to sweaty yoga towels.

My packsack has been with me through a lot. I’ve routinely treated it with mink oil, dubbin, saddle dressing, and a miscellaneous range of lotions and potions through the years, but it has also been mistreated, even abused.

Still it survives. Each day, particularly over the past six or seven years, it is called into action and still looks good. In fact, like many good leather accessories, it may even look better as the years pass and it takes on a heritage look.

The packsack, however, was becoming a little rough around the edges. Threads were slowly unraveling, a few seams were splitting, and one particular spot had actually worn through.

For the past couple of years I’ve been searching for a leather messenger bag, not to replace my packsack, but to augment its use. I had come to the silent realization that despite its well-earned antique appearance, there were occasions when it may not have looked as if it belonged.

I knew I needed a more formal bag, with a little more structure, but I wasn’t going to buy just anything. I wasn’t going to settle, and I had a list of features I required. I wanted one that would last, presumably, as long as my current companion.

I finally found the perfect sidekick about a month back. A handsome bag, it has the right amount of pockets and compartments to haul around what I need (and I’ve been carrying a lot), a thick, firm strap, and luxurious pebbled leather finish. I know it will last, as leather does.

Now, I have no intention of tossing out ‘old reliable’, or hanging it in the back of the closet. I feel there is still a lot of life left in it, so I took it to a proper shoemaker. A family business in downtown Toronto, it was obvious the cobbler had the skills and equipment to restore the bag’s majesty.

Parts of it were patched, seams were sewn up right, and the stitching on the weary straps was re-sewn. It was not a cheap renovation, but will give the bag another couple of decades. I’m sure. It won’t see the daily action it was accustomed to (my new bag is doing what it should), but it is sure to become a weekender, or used for less formal late-night carousing or wandering about the city.

I made a conscious decision to repair the packsack and give it a new life. I suppose I wanted to rebel (who me?) in some way against this disposable society we live in. Everything, nowadays, has obsolescence built into it.

Luggage, furniture, and household goods: they don’t make things like they used to, and this seems to suit today’s popular attitude favoring replacement.

If the car starts having problems, many times people don’t bother fixing, but simply get a new one. Should the heel pad fall off a pair of loafers, they are not repaired, but replaced with new shoes. If a lover, partner, or spouse starts giving you grief, you don’t work on fixing the situation, but go looking for a new one.

Replacing is quicker and easier than caring and repairing, and everyone wants easy.

Lasting quality has become a thing of the past; but quality lasts, and keeps on lasting.

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