When someone throws out a writing prompt challenge, I generally accept.
Back in January, Susan Bearman kicked off her Annual Writing Contest on her blog, Two Kinds of People (2KoP). Susan is the master at writing about “the folly of arbitrary divisions,” as she says (case in point: this post on Fan vs. Fanatic). And, she makes it look easy. Her open prompt, “[p]ick your own favorite Two Kinds of People topic and write about it,” gave anyone interested all sorts of flexbility. But, what I learned in trying to tackle this prompt was that, well, Susan is a master.
The Chiropractor’s Dream
A guy named Tim Ferriss wrote a blog post a while back describing how he can travel carrying 10 pounds or less. “The name of the game…,” he says, “is being ‘fashionably light.’” I’ve never been called “fashionable,” and, in my mind, “fashionably light” doesn’t even compute. Mr. Ferriss’ post on traveling contrasts with my own practices and solidifies my belief that people on the move fall into two separate camps: those who pack light and those who pack.
I don’t travel light — not on vacation, not when I go to work, not when I return home from the supermarket. I’ve never been a Den mother for any Boy Scout (the closest I’ve come to any Scout is paying seven dollars for two boxes of Thin Mints), but I pledge the Boy Scouts motto just the same – Be prepared - and therein lies my problem. I’m notorious for filling every pocket of a purse and occupying every inch of dead space in a bag. And, while I’m fully prepared for any and all emergencies on a given day, my inability to pack “fashionably light” sometimes leaves me looking and feeling like Igor in “Young Frankenstein” – humped over and eyes bulging.
I could blame my proclivity to over pack on being a mother. My kids are young, so I offer plenty of good reasons why I carry extra notebooks and pens, snacks, bottles of water, and one (or two) bags of tissue. But, “the kid excuse” does little to explain why my bag for work weighs almost as much as my four year old daughter. No, my days as a pack horse began long before I became a mother.
I was nine years old when I received my first invitation to a tea party. My best friend from down the block asked me over for the afternoon and suggested I bring a few of my stuffed animal friends. Like many kids, I possessed a whole slew of stuffed companions, all of them important. With a tender heart and a lot of patience, my mother helped me load each bear, bunny, and doll into several paper sacks (they wouldn’t fit into just one), and she asked if I was sure my friend meant for me to bring so many.
“Oh yes!” I said, emphatic, the word “few” being a relative term in my world even then.
We filled the back seat of her 1979 red and white Mercury with my bags of friends, and she drove from our house at the top of the hill to my friend’s house at the bottom. For all I know, she put the car in neutral and coasted down the hill, we lived that close. Then, she gave up five more minutes of her time to help me unload.
When I read a post like the one Tim Ferriss wrote, I dream of being a minimalist, of standing upright while I walk to work, of gliding through an airport with, say, a free hand to wave at a passerby. I stare longingly at small travel bags in stores like REI, and I run my hand across the face of a cute little clutch at the mall. And sometimes, like last week, I succumb to the dream. I buy a new bag with the sole purpose of downsizing, of lightening my load and correcting my posture.
But, my motto always gets the best of me.
Downsizing is a temporary fix.
And, that new bag I’m carrying is getting fatter by the day.
What about you? Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a woman thing. Remember George Costanza and his wallet?….
* The above photo comes from www.moviemarket.com. Search under “Marty Feldman.”